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House team set to proceed with Ouko probe despite court order

The National Assembly’s Finance, Trade and Planning Committee looks set to defy the court order barring it from consideration of a petition for the removal of Auditor-General Edward Ouko.

The matter is bound to be one of the topical issues as the National Assembly resumes sittings Tuesday afternoon after a 10-day break.

The Finance Committee is scheduled to meet three sets of witnesses Tuesday morning— audit firm Baker Tilly Merali’s, Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC) and James Ochieng Oduol.

The audit firm was dragged into the proposed removal of Mr Ouko on the basis that it was the beneficiary of a contract from the Office of the Auditor-General at a time it was the external auditor of the same office recruited by Parliament.

INFLATED PRICE

KHRC is expected to stand by Mr Ouko while it Mr Oduol is linked to OSI Kenya, the company from whom the Office of the Auditor-General bought software at a reportedly inflated price.

If these meetings go ahead, the committee will be acting in defiance of an order issued Monday by Justice Enock Chacha Mwita in a case against Parliament filed by activist Okiya Omtatah.

Justice Mwita is handling the case by Mr Omtatah, who argues that there is a spirited campaign to have Mr Ouko removed from office yet he is a diligent and dedicated worker.

“Conservatory orders are hereby granted restraining the committee of the National Assembly from further proceeding with that petition. For the avoidance of doubt, no one should act on any recommendations made by the Finance, Planning and Trade Committee until the court determines this case,” he ruled.

If the committee chaired by Ainamoi MP Benjamin Lang’at proceeds with the matter and goes ahead to make a recommendation to the larger House, it will not be the first time Parliament will be defying the court.
COURT ORDER

The Senate in 2014 defied an order by the court and impeached Embu Governor Martin Wambora.

Mr Wambora was reinstated by the court after it ruled that the removal was in defiance of the court order.

The National Assembly’s decision in 2015 to have then members of the Judicial Service Commission investigated by a tribunal was also in vain after the High Court ruled that a team set up by President Kenyatta should not go ahead with its job.

At the time, an individual had petitioned the National Assembly for the removal of the JSC members but the JSC had rushed to court to stop the process.

The difference between these cases and that of the Auditor-General is that Mr Ouko already met the team two weeks ago and submitted a lengthy memorandum.

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