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MPs turn heat on judges for stopping probe against Edward Ouko

National Finance Committee chairman Benjamin Langat follow proceedings when when his committee met to discuss the Auditor General Edward Ouko’s petition at Parliament Buildings Nairobi 14/03/17 PHOTO MOSES OMUSULA

The court’s decision to stop MPs from investigating the Auditor-General has elicited sharp reactions from the lawmakers.

Two High Court judges ordered the National Assembly’s Finance Committee to stop questioning Mr Edward Ouko until a case filed by activist Okiya Omtatah is heard.

The angry MPs yesterday turned the heat on judges Chacha Mwita and Dennis Odunga, who separately issued the orders, accusing the duo of interfering with the work of the National Assembly.

On Monday, Justice Mwita ordered the Ainamoi MP Benjamin Langat-led committee to stop discussing a petition filed against Ouko by lawyer Emmanuel Mwagambo. Mr Omtata’s case will be heard on April 10.

The judge stopped House Speaker Justin Muturi and the National Assembly from adopting or discussing any recommendations made by the committee concerning the Auditor-General.

And yesterday, Justice Odunga issued a similar order after the Auditor-General separately moved to the High Court to challenge the handling of his case by Parliament on grounds that the committee was being used to witchhunt him. The hearing of the case filed by Mr Ouko was set for May 10.

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House Majority Leader Aden Duale led MPs in expressing outrage over the separate decisions of the judges, pointing out that the two were usurping the powers of Parliament.

“There is nothing special about the Auditor-General. This House has discussed the conduct of other senior public servants like Cabinet Secretary Jacob Kaimenyi and Principal Secretary Monica Juma; they both survived. What does Mr Ouko fear?” asked Duale.

“Substantive issues had been raised relating to his alleged violation of the Constitution. It is wrong to prevent the House exercising its freedom of speech. The committee and the House cannot be barred from exercising its oversight roles on behalf of Kenyans,” he added.

Olago Aluoch (Kisumu West) accused the Judiciary of not respecting the separation of powers, arguing that in the matter facing Ouko, the independence of the Legislature should have been respected by the two judges.

“As Parliament, we need to guard our independence jealousy. We need to guard our independence, especially now that it is under threat,” said Mr Aluoch.

 

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