NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 26 – Sessional County Public Accounts and Investments Committee Chairman Boni Khalwale says they have not been served with a ruling from the High Court barring Governors from appearing before them.
Khalwale said the committee learnt of the injunction through the media and was yet to know the details of the ruling which gives reprieve to Governors Isaac Ruto (Bomet County), William Kabogo (Kiambu) and Jack Ranguma of Kisumu County who had been summoned to answer queries emanating from an audit report of spending by their counties.
“We are not aware that this injunction has actually been meted upon us. We will consult with the Office of the Clerk and the Speaker and if they have received such orders from the High Court, we will look at them in their entirety,” Khalwale firmly stated.
The Kakamega Senator said the committee was aware that Governors had gone to court challenging three issues.
He said they include formation of the County Development Boards, temporary termination of transfer of funds to four counties and an appeal against an earlier ruling directing the Governors to appear before the Senate, and it was unclear which of the issues the order was directed at.
“Owing to this we are going to convene a meeting tomorrow and at that meeting we will be briefed by the Legal Affairs Committee and we will make a pronouncement on what is the way forward based on the orders given by the court. Parliament does not wait for anybody to tell it what to do,” said Khalwale.
The committee was expecting Bomet Governor Ruto to honour summons to appear before it on Tuesday, but he failed to show up.
The committee was irked by the fact that the Governor didn’t even inform them that he would not appear.
Khalwale however said they didn’t intend to take any action against him until they learnt of the contents of the order by the High Court which could have guided his decision.
Ruto who chairs the Council of Governors and who has been on the forefront in calls for a referendum has accused the Senate of engaging in supremacy wars by summoning them.
Apart from Ruto, Kiambu Governor Kabogo and Ranguma of Kisumu have also defied orders to appear before the Senate committee. Murang’a County Governor Mwangi wa Iria however heeded to the summons.
The committee is now expected to table a Motion before the House to authorise the Controller of Budget to release funds to Murang’a following the satisfactory response of all the queries targeted at Iria.
And since the Senate is now on recess, if Murang’a County runs out of funds, the Speaker has the authority to convene a session with members Khalwale’s committee to pass the Motion which will then represent a decision of the whole House.
The High Court on Monday gave reprieve to Ruto, Kabogo and Ranguma when it ruled that they should not honour summons to appear before the Senate committee pending hearing of the petition before the court.
The Governor’s were represented by lawyer Ahmednasir Abdullahi who told the court that the Senate had usurped the constitutional power of County Assemblies in purporting to question them over financial management yet they are not the accounting officers.
Chief Justice Willy Mutunga has already appointed Justices Isaac Lenaola, Mumbi Ngugi and George Odunga to hear the petition by the Governors on September 12.