NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 27 – Auditor-General Edward Ouko is on Tuesday expected to respond to a petition seeking his removal from office on allegations of gross misconduct and failing to adhere to procurement rules in the purchase of an audit software.
It is however unclear whether Ouko will personally appear before the National Assembly Finance and Trade Committee after his lawyer Otiende Amollo wrote to the Speaker of the National Assembly saying they were under instructions from to appear before the MPs Committee and represent him.
“This being a quasi-judicial inquiry, our instructions are that the National Assembly notes that we shall represent our client as by law provided. In so doing, the National Assembly be pleased to indicate the exact charges to be answered, the precise part of Article 251 of the Constitution alleged to have been breached, and the manner in which the breach is alleged to have occurred,” Amollo stated in his letter.
The committee also has to contend with a petitioner who is equally not eager to soak up the publicity that comes with prosecuting charges that might eject a constitutional office holder out of office.
Emmanuel Mwagoah, who petitioned the House, has on two occasions stood up the MPs, and only last week wrote to the Committee Chairman Benjamin Langat stating that he would not be appearing the before them until they met his conditions.
One of the conditions was that the MPs guarantee him and his family extra police security – but he did not stop there. He went further to declare that he will only appear if the sitting with the MPs is held away from the members of the public and the media – who are usually allowed into such sittings unless the witness requests otherwise or if the matter under discussion relates to national security.
The Finance and Trade Committee Chairman and his members directed that Mwagoah must appear, insisting that failure to prosecute his petition in person would deem it lost because as the accuser, he did not defend his allegations.
“He has to appear in person and our Standing Orders provide for situations where we can hold proceeding in-camera and that will be decided when he is present here and he requests so,” Committee Chairman Langat (Ainamoi) said.
Mwagoah, who was directed to appear before the Committee on Tuesday at 9.30am, had sought to simply have them interrogate his written memorandum, following claims his life is in danger.
“I have been called a gun for hire and maliciously termed a puppet for some unknown paymasters, whereas I am ready to attend and provide a more detailed brief, I believe that given the animosity that my actions have raised it’s prudent that I exercise caution. The detailed brief shall entail naming of persons and entities that were involved in the audit scandal and I must have been stepping on many toes,” reads the letter in part.
Langat directed the Clerk of the National Assembly Michael Sialai to write to the Inspector-General of Police Joseph Boinnet requesting he assign Mwagoah and his family extra security.
Sialai and President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Chief of Staff Joseph Kinyua are also expected before the Committee on Tuesday afternoon.
The House Committee has until March 4 to submit it report on whether it has found justifiable grounds for the House to recommend to the President to appoint a tribunal to investigate Ouko in line with provisions of Article 251 of the Constitution.
The petitioner contends that the Auditor-General has among other charges violated Article 201(d) regarding prudent and responsible use of public funds by allegedly failing to prevent wastage of public funds.
Mwagoah accuses Ouko of breaching Article 73(2)(b) of the Constitution by ignoring merit and the approved scheme of service in the recruitment and promotion of employees in the Office of the Auditor-General.
The petitioner further claimed that Ouko had breached the Leadership and Integrity Act, alleging conflict of interest and the recruitment of some employees in 2015.
The petitioner heavily relies on a case in which Ouko was alleged to have procured an audit software at an inflated cost of Sh100 million.
This latest attempt, however comes after the Director of Public Prosecutions Keriako Tobiko cleared Ouko of the corruption allegations.
He however authorised prosecution of eight individuals from Ouko’s office, OSI Kenya Ltd and Oracle Kenya.