High Court quashes MPs’ proceedings against Edward Ouko

The High Court has quashed proceedings of a National Assembly committee’s proceedings against Auditor-General Edward Ouko.

Judge George Odunga on Friday ruled that the proceedings of the Departmental Committee on Finance and Trade failed the test of fair administrative action.

SUMMON

The judge, however, declined to quash the decision by Parliament to investigate Mr Ouko over alleged abuse of office.

Thus, Parliament can still summon him but do the investigations within the law. ‎

The House investigations followed a petition filed by one Emmanuel Mwagonah, who wants Mr Ouko removed from office.

Among other grounds, the petitioner accuses Mr Ouko of wasting public funds by accumulating a Sh1 million phone bill on his iPad while he was abroad.

He claims Mr Ouko frequently travelled out of the country for private reasons and has been managing the office remotely, resulting in high telephone and Internet costs.

SH1M

“In one trip abroad in 2014, the telephone charges for his iPad line were in excess of Sh1 million. The amount was not captured as telephone expenditure in the accounting records,” Mr Mwagonah alleges.

He further claimed that Mr Ouko had been allocated five cars, some of which are used by his wife and daughter.

“These vehicles include two Mercedes Benz, a Toyota Land-Cruiser VX, a Volkswagen Passat and a Nissan Patrol. All the above vehicles have private plates,” Mr Mwagonah said.

The auditor is also accused of failing to submit reports to the President and Parliament at the end of financial years, giving a firm that was supposed to be auditing his office other work, and buying an office at a cost of Sh10 million in Mombasa, which was never used.

LETTER

Mr Ouko has denied all the accusations and termed the investigation a “witch-hunt”.

In a letter to Parliament, Mr Ouko questioned the speed with which National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi submitted it to the committee.

“The petition was received by the office of the clerk on the February 14, 2017, and the Clerk and Speaker appear to have committed it to the committee without a preliminary inquiry as to whether it merits further consideration contrary to the law and the Standing Orders,” the letter read in part. 

DPP

According to Mr Ouko, the petition would have been reviewed for sufficiency and legality by the clerk and subjected to an advisory committee.

He further argued that it contravenes the Petition to Parliament Act and the Standing Orders as it failed to indicate that the subject matter has been dealt with by the Director of Public Prosecutions.

“It is unfortunate that the National Assembly has now been dragged into a malicious and sustained campaign by a group of individuals who have previously sought the removal of the respondent from office through various complaints and which, after inquiry by relevant investigative agencies, exonerated the respondent,” he stated.

Auditor-General Edward Ouko to appear before National Assembly’s Finance Committee at 3pm.

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