Senate rules court out of order on governors

September 23, 2014 4:05 pm
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The Speaker told the courts that no one could injuct Parliament, further adding the court erred in serving a committee chairman as opposed to the Clerk of the Senate/FILE
The Speaker told the courts that no one could injuct Parliament, further adding the court erred in serving a committee chairman as opposed to the Clerk of the Senate/FILE
NAIROBI, Kenya, Sept 23 – Speaker of the Senate Ekwe Ethuro has overruled the High Court’s decision barring the Senate from summoning governors to answer audit queries, saying the order was improperly served.

The Speaker told the courts that no one could injuct Parliament, further adding the court erred in serving a committee chairman as opposed to the Clerk of the Senate.

“I want to confirm in the interim that nobody can injunct Parliament and its committees – and for the specific matter of Dr (Boni) Khalwale’s committee. You cannot be served, you can only serve the Speaker and the Speaker is not Dr Boni Khalwale. You can only serve the Clerk on behalf of the Senate, you cannot serve the committee chairs,” ruled the Speaker.

The Speaker further directed the Sessional County Public Accounts and Investments Committee to resume its sittings and continue summoning governors to answer the audit queries.

“You need to disregard all that, you need to proceed with those invites and summons as the case may be. I want us to also appreciate that most governors have actually headed to the summons of the Senate. We should not create the erroneous impression that all governors have failed to come. We have been told that this morning that the governor from Elgeyo Marakwet appeared, ” stated Ethuro.

The High Court’s order elicited debate with Senators accusing the Judiciary of overriding its mandate.

Elgeyo Marakwet Senator Kipchumba Murkomen fired the first salvo saying, “I am shocked as a member of the County Accounts Committee that the courts of this country can even attempt that they want to stop the Senate of this Republic from inviting any governor from appearing before this committee. We will not be cowed as a House because we have a responsibility to interpret the Constitution. This House must continue with its responsibility to hold county governments accountable.”

A clearly agitated Murkomen went further and even dared the courts to arrest him for contempt of court for doing his work.

Kakamega Senator Khalwale who chairs the committee expressed his disappointment over the manner in which Bomet Governor Isaac Ruto who is among two other governors (Kiambu and Kisumu) who have defied summons to appear before the Senate was running the Council of Governors which he chairs.

“Governor Isaac Ruto should stop practicing trade unionism in the name of being the Chairman of the Council of Governors, Mr Speaker,” said Khalwale.

He went ahead to accuse some of the governors particularly those enjoined in the case of attempting to cover up information that could implicate them in misuse of funds.

Those enjoined in the case are: the Council of Governors as the first Petitioner, Machakos Governor Alfred Mutua, Trans Nzoia Governor Patrick Khaemba, Wajir Governor Ahmed Abdulahi Mohammed, Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya, Embu Governor Martin Wambora and Kisii Governor James Ongwae.

On his part Meru County Senator Kiraitu Murungi questioned where the court got the power to suspend the functions of Parliament.

“The Judiciary must be very arrogant, that then they should sit on a decision to implement this law for weeks, months and months therefore mess up the accountability system in this county especially when it comes to devolution which is an important plank in this country and the constitution,” stated Kisumu Senator Anyang’ Nyong’o who termed the behavior of the Judiciary as shameful.

Earlier on Tuesday, Elgeyo Marakwet Governor Alex Tolgos appeared before the Senate Public Accounts committee albeit the court order.

Efforts to reach Council of Governors Chairman Ruto for comment were futile as his phone was switched off.

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