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Four governors to face Senate over county expenditure

By Hillary Mageka
Monday, September 7th, 2020
Senate in session. Photo/PD/FILE
In summary

At least four governors are scheduled this week to appear before the Senate County Public Accounts and Investment Committee (CPAIC) to answer to audit queries raised by the Auditor General.

Among the governors are: Alex Tolgos (Elgeyo Marakwet), Samuel Tunai (Narok) and Hillary Barchok (Bomet).

The county chiefs will respond to audit queries raised by former Auditor General Edward Ouko on their county expenditure for 2015/16, 2016/17 and 2017/18 financial years.

This even as Muranga Governor Mwangi wa Iria on Friday moved to court to bar the committee from demanding his physical appear to also be grilled over audit queries despite an agreement on virtual sessions.

The Senate, its Speaker Kenneth Lusaka are listed as the first and second respondents with the Inspector General Police Hillary Mutyambai also listed as an interested party.

“Pending inter-parties hearing and determination of this application a conservatory order is hereby issued staying the decision of the second respondent contained in the letter of the Clerk of the Senate dated September 2,” Justice Njuguna said of the governor’s application.

The nine-member committee chaired by Kisii Senator Sam Ongeri had fined the governor sh 500,000 for failing to attend to the committee physically despite being invited several times.

The committee further asked Inspector General of Police Hillary Mutyambai to arrest and present the governor of Muranga before the committee on September 10, to answer audit queries in three financial years from 2015 to 2018.

“We wish to state that the Committee first schedules meetings with governors through invitations, and where they fail to appear then we send summons.

"In case a governor fails to honour the summons, then the Committee may impose a personal fine and/or cause the arrest and production of the governor," the senator explained.

“In doing so, we invoked the Powers and Privileges Act that grants the committee power to order the arrest of any witnesses who snubs invites or summons,” Ongeri told People Daily on Sunday.

“He (Wa Iria) is a fugitive of justice who must tell Muranga people how he spent their resources,” he added.

Citing Article 125 of the Constitution that gives powers to the Senate and its Committees to summon public officers, including governors to account for the resources bestowed upon them, the senator said, the Muranga county chief should not consider himself special as they were other governors who have been summoned and failed to appear before Senate.

“We invoke the relevant sections of laws to make them appear before us to account for public resources given to them. We wish to remind Governors that the role of the Senate is to represent the counties and to protect the interests of the counties and their governments,” he noted.

On extortion claims raised by the Council of Governors, Ongeri termed the allegations as an affront the senate constitutional mandate in representing and protecting the interests of the Counties they are in charge of.

“We shall not be blackmailed, threatened or our integrity mudded by a few Governors who are afraid to account for the many billions in their disposal.”

The governors had on Thursday said they will not honour Senate committee invitations until funds are disbursed to county governments.