, NAIROBI, Kenya, May 7 – The supremacy battle between the National Assembly and the Judiciary has taken a new twist after three Jubilee Coalition legislators called on Chief Justice Willy Mutunga to step down over allegations of misappropriation of funds.
This comes after the Auditor-General released a Special Audit report which accuses the Chief Justice and former Judiciary Chief Registrar (CRJ) Gladys Shollei of presiding over suspect deals at the Judiciary worth at least Sh645 million.
“The former CRJ was removed from office for those same allegations of corruption, the same courts have since absolved her of any wrong doing and even said she was wrongly terminated from her work; yet now we are getting a report on where the culpability lies, it’s obvious what should happen next,” Tetu MP Ndung’u Gethenji said.
Igembe South MP Mithika Linturi added; “The law should not recognise a small man and a big man because the CJ has already set the pace that those people with the allegations of corruption have since been suspended and are out of office then the best thing that one can do if mentioned in this report is to step aside and see the law take its normal course.”
The legislators want the National Assembly to be recalled from a month-long recess to discuss the allegations highlighted in the Special Audit.
Speaking at Parliament Buildings, Linturi also wants the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) members to step aside to aid investigations over misappropriation of Sh1.6 million paid as allowances to them.
“The Constitution recognises that we need to strengthen our institutions, because even if Mutunga is not there, the Judiciary will have to continue and that is why we cannot address ourselves to individuals. We are saying being the President of the Supreme Court and head of the Judiciary, he needs to understand the reputation of the courts is in jeopardy.”
Tiaty MP Asman Kamama faulted the manner in which JSC members drew allowances in improperly constituted meetings.
“We have found a meeting with a quorum of one person and they are being paid this kind of allowances?” posed Kamama.
“This is rot in the Judiciary and as the chairman of the (JSC) he must be able to comment and give us a comprehensive report because it is clear there is a real corruption here.”
The Public Accounts Committee of the National Assembly had sanctioned the report when the fighting between Shollei and JSC went public. It alleges that the former CRJ, as the accounting officer presided over the opening of bank accounts, some of which she was a signatory to, without the necessary approval of the Treasury.
She is also accused of authorising payment for goods and services in advance, contrary to the law, and the payment of Sh262 million without proper authorisation and documentation.
The report accuses the Judicial Service Commission of interfering with the Judiciary’s operations.
The JSC is alleged to have demanded that people who are not members of the commission be paid Sh80,000 as sitting allowances yet they were entitled to Sh10,000.
Some Sh9.8 million was paid out in this manner while Sh1.6 million was paid in allowances for meetings that had not been properly constituted, the report states.
The JSC is also indicted over failure to obey procurement laws by leasing Mayfair Centre through direct procurement. Mayfair Centre’s owners were also paid Sh7.3 million as rent for two years before the Judiciary occupied the building.
The Auditor-General has recommended the recovery of this money in subsequent leases and told the JSC to desist from financing third parties as this is contrary to the Public Finance Management Act.