Lawyers AGM turns chaotic as new project raises heat

March 21, 2015 3:20 pm
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The lawyers were accusing their leadership of failure to reveal the whole financial details of the South C project and only did that after a court order raising questions of accountability and transparency about the project. Photo/ JOSEPH MURAYA
The lawyers were accusing their leadership of failure to reveal the whole financial details of the South C project and only did that after a court order raising questions of accountability and transparency about the project. Photo/ JOSEPH MURAYA

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 21 – Wrangles dominated Saturday’s Law Society of Kenya Annual General meeting leading to adjournment of the meeting by the society Chairman Eric Mutua.

A lobby group branded Okoa LSK cited various clauses of the Law Society of Kenya Act to convince hundreds of their colleagues to vote for an interim chairman and proceeded with the meeting after Mutua and his entire council vacated the venue at the Hilton Hotel.

Police were shortly called to help restore order after members failed to agree on whether to suspend or continue with the meeting.

The centre of the chaos is a Sh1.2 billion project for the construction of an International Arbitration Centre, for which members are required to contribute fees ranging from Sh39, 000 to Sh50, 000.

The lawyers were accusing their leadership of failure to reveal the whole financial details of the South C project and only did that after a court order raising questions of accountability and transparency about the project.

Lawyer Edwin Sifuna who proposed a motion to have the project abandoned and five firms invited to conduct a forensic audit into the affairs of the council and the secretariat for the last four years told journalists that they only want accountability.

“This is an attempt to intimidate members of this honourable organization…the chairman attempted to drum through his owner agenda,” he stated.

“All the membership is asking is for accountability and transparency…we are not interested in any side shows.”
They want a forensic audit of all accounts of the society both income and expenditures for the past five years.

“The purported beneficiaries of the project had to go to court to be shown the project documents, that’s how ridiculous it is. In fact we have not been given all documents,” he pointed out.

He stated the project has been over estimated.

An assessment by the National Environment Management Authority internal quantity surveyor, he said, indicated the four storey building will cost Sh283 million while the council had submitted an approximate cost of Sh608 million.

He pointed out that there have been conflicting figures and now they have the current figures of Sh1.2 billion.

Charles Kanjama who is a former treasurer of the society raised concerns against a motion proposed by Jackline Manina to have the CEO Apollo Mboya suspended as the audit continues.

Though the motion was passed with questions of whether the proceedings were legal being raised, Kanjama said the CEO must be given a fair hearing before such a decision is reached.

“Our new constitution requires us to be more sensitive about not violating or infringing on the right of others…I felt it was incumbent upon me to ensure that the meeting did not proceed upon an illegality of failing to give those who are being accused a right to be heard,” he stated.

Mutua later sent a statement to newsrooms condemning the conduct of a section of the members, “that has brought this noble profession to disrepute both locally and internationally.”

“We are aware that there has been an attempt to emasculate and weaken the Council with a view to derailing it from addressing matters of national importance such as mega-corruption.”

He warned that there LSK council was reviewing video footage of the proceedings with a view to taking both criminal and disciplinary proceedings against any member who conducted themselves contrary to the law.
He also said that they are investigating allegations, “we have received that some of the members had been purposely given instructions by external forces to disrupt the AGM.”
He also said declared any motion discussed under the interim chairman Lawyer Assa Nyakundi null and void.

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