CoG, senators in battle over Barchok arrest
The fallout between governors and senators over the use of Sh17 billion Road Maintenance Levy Fund worsened after the House ordered the arrest of Bomet Governor Hillary Barchok.
Senate’s Roads and Transport committee has directed Inspector General of Police Hillary Mutyambai to arrest and bring Barchok to the committee to shed light on utilisation of the fund.
The arrest order came after he skipped an invitation and subsequent summon, forcing the committee to trigger the provisions of the Parliamentary Powers and Privileges Act, 2017.
Section 27 of the Act allows parliamentary committees to order for arrest or fine witnesses who fail to appear to produce evidence.
But in a rejoinder, Barchok said he was not aware of any summons and that he only read about it in the local dailies.
Maintaining he is not going to honor the summons, the governor said he was yet to be served with an official summon and that his position and of all other governors through the council was that they are not going to appear in separate committees apart from the public accounts and investment committee.
“We already have a common stand as the Council of Governors on this matter, it is not my position as Bomet…Senate has about 20 committees and there is no way we can be appearing in all of them yet we answer most of the questions required by these committees at the public accounts and investment committee,” said Barchok.
“What am I going to the Senate for and based on which report? Let them come here to the county first and see the roads and bridges that we have done so that they can have a basis for calling me to answer questions,” he posed.
The committee chaired by Kiambu Senator Kimani Wamatangi has also summoned five other governors to appear before the team.
They include Sospeter Ojaamong (Busia), Ali Roba (Mandera), Anyang’ Nyong’o (Kisumu), Paul Chepkwony (Kericho), Okoth Obado (Migori) and James Ongwae (Kisii).
To order arrest
The county chiefs have all been summoned to appear on different days this week and should they fail to appear, the committee will order their arrest or fine them Sh500,000 each.
“Take notice that should you fail to attend before the committee on the date and time specified, the committee may impose upon you a fine not exceeding Sh500,000 or order for your arrest,” the committee said in letters sent to the governors and signed by Senate Clerk Jeremiah Nyegenye.
“You may also be guilty of an offence for which you shall be liable, on conviction, to a fine not exceeding Sh200,000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months or both fine and imprisonment.”
Senators and governors have been reading from extreme ends on the usage of the fund.
The county bosses, through their umbrella body, the Council of Governors, has rejected an invitation and summonses by the committee for them to appear before the Kimani Wamatangi team citing duplication of roles.
Senators also want the governors to explain the expenditures of billions of shillings donated by the World Bank under the Kenya Devolution Support Programme in the last three fiscal years.
The county bosses insist that the funds fall under the oversight of a separate Senate committee – the County Public Accounts and Investments Committee – adding that summoning them to appear before the roads panel amounts to duplication of roles.