, NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 14 – Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya has accused the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Keriako Tobiko of abusing his office by directing that he be arrested and charged for failing to honour a Senate committee summons.
Through lawyers Paul Muite and James Orengo, Oparanya objected to his arraignment before Chief Magistrate Daniel Ogembo on Monday on the grounds that the court lacked the jurisdiction to hear the case.
He therefore applied to have his plea taking deferred to allow him to seek the High Court’s direction on the matter.
“In fact it is the prosecution which should be charged for abusing their office,” Muite charged.
Oparanya is facing the charge of disobeying a lawful order contrary to section 131 of the Penal Code.
“On November 13 at Kakamega, being the Governor, disobeyed a witness summons issued by the Senate Assembly Sessional Committee on County Public Accounts and Investments to appear before it in Room No.4 main Parliament buildings,” the charge against him reads.
The prosecution objected to the deferment of the plea with counsel Duncan Ondimu arguing that the accused had been well aware that he would be arraigned on Monday and should have sought injunctive orders from the High Court prior to the court date.
He in turn also applied to have Oparanya denied bail either before or after he answered to the charge against him.
He said Oparanya’s failure to honour two invitations to the Senate and a subsequent summons was proof that he held no regard for summons.
Ondimu said Oparanya also ought to be detained as he could intimidate members of his government set to testify against him.
He also argued that there was a risk of Oparanya absconding given he risked two years in jail without the option of a fine.
A claim Muite said was “absurd” as it was a misdemeanour charge.
On Thursday, Director of Public Prosecutions Keriako Tobiko asked the Directorate of Criminal Investigations to arrest and interrogate Oparanya for failing to honour the Senate’s summons.
Article 125 of the Constitution gives either House of Parliament and any of its committees the same powers as the High Court to enforce the attendance of witnesses.
The Senate Public Accounts and Investments Committee summoned Oparanya to answer questions raised by the Auditor General on the misappropriation and irregular diversion of county funds, lack of documentation to support spending of county funds and contravention of the Public Procurement and Disposal Act.
According to the auditor’s report, there also were no proper records of debtors and no evidence of efforts to recover lost money totalling over Sh10.2 million.
Oparanya has defended his decision not to honour the Senate summons by arguing that he is not an accounting officer.
Ogembo will deliver his ruling on Oparanya’s application for deferment of plea taking on Wednesday morning.
Before then he directed that Oparanya remain out on the Sh10,000 bond set by the police.