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Auditor-general asks why he was not invited to meeting

He sought to know on whose invitation Mr Kinyua made the presentation and why he was not given a copy.

The name of President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Chief of Staff Joseph Kinyua was on Thursday mentioned in an alleged plot to hound Auditor-General Edward Ouko out of office.

Mr Ouko questioned why he was not invited to a meeting between the National Assembly’s Finance and Trade Committee and Mr Kinyua, in which the latter presented a memorandum on the petition to remove him from office.

“Contrary to expectations as stated in the Fair Administrative Action Act that a person would be notified on who will appear to testify, when they would testify, whether they would testify in support or objection to the petition, copies of the submissions and documents produced, the right to be present during testimony, and the right to cross-examine, I have not been advised on any appearance by anyone,” said Mr Ouko.

The auditor added: “Specifically, we have been advised that Mr Joseph Kinyua, the Head of Public Service and Secretary to the Cabinet, may have appeared and presented a Memorandum to the Committee.”

On Thursday, the Nation established that the House committee chaired by Ainamoi Member of Parliament Benjamin Langat invited Mr Kinyua to shed light on allegations that Mr Ouko had failed to submit audit reports to the President. We could, however, not establish the contents of the memorandum.

The allegation was contained in a petition filed by Nairobi lawyer Emmanuel Mwagambo Mwagonah seeking Mr Ouko’s removal from office over alleged corruption and abuse of office.

Mr Ouko has since obtained court orders blocking the National Assembly from prosecuting the petition and forwarding its recommendations to the President. On Thursday, he indicated that he would not attend any parliamentary proceedings on the matter since it was now the subject of a court case.

On Thursday, National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi postponed a ruling on whether the committee will continue scrutinising the petition. He promised to rule on Tuesday.

At a press conference earlier in the day, Mr Ouko had accused Mr Muturi and the committee of furthering a scheme to hound him out of office. He questioned the manner in which the committee fast-tracked the petition in a record one day and not the required seven days.

Mr Ouko said he was “gravely concerned at the conduct of the proceedings, which clearly run contrary to the Constitution, the Fair Administrative Action Act and the rules of natural justice”.

Flanked by his lawyer Otiende Amollo, the Auditor-General protested that despite having “dutifully complied by filing a response, complete with annexures, and by appearing before the committee”, the MPs “insisted that I must take responsibility as the accounting officer for acts of omissions of my entire staff”.

Asked whether he was aware of any forces after his job, Mr Ouko responded: “I see all this happening and naturally I feel concerned and sometimes wonder who is behind this.”

SEEK REDRESS

Mr Amollo added: “For anybody who watched the proceedings in Parliament, I think the Speaker has already made up his mind.”

Mr Ouko defended his move to seek redress in court over the petition. He however stated that he was ready to re-appear before the committee once the courts dispensed with the case.

The auditor said it was apparent the committee was “hell-bent on removing me from the position of the Auditor-General at all costs and by whichever means. He added: “Against that backdrop, I was bereft with no option but to seek redress from court.”

In Parliament, MPs criticised the Auditor-General for saying he would not be meeting the committee again.

“As you well appreciate, that communication requires a number of aspects that require serious consideration,” said Mr Muturi.

Referring to the comments by MPs when his advice was sought on Tuesday, Mr Muturi suggested, tongue-in-cheek, that he would need to consider whether to agree with the usurpation of the Standing Orders.

“You might want to know whether the Tenth Parliament made a mistake in giving us the current Standing Orders and whether they should be ousted and now we operate in the jungle,” said Mr Muturi.

In a veiled reference to the decision by Justices Chacha Mwaita and George Odunga halting the Finance Committee’s scrutiny of the petition, the Speaker said: “Committees should feel free to consider budgets, even of those that think this House should not hold certain discussions”.

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