Commission starts Makueni probe

Commission of Inquiry on Dissolution of Makueni County Chair Mohammed Nyaoga (right) and Commissioner Taib Ali Taib during the hearing at KICC. (Photo:Tabitha Otwori/Standard)

The commission of inquiry into the petition to suspend the Makueni County Government started its public hearings Thursday.

This came as the High Court declined to issue temporary orders stopping the commission from inquiring into the county government's wrangles.

High Court judge Mumbi Ngugi said it would not be in the interest of justice to issue orders to the applicant before hearing those sued in the case.

The judge ruled this in the case filed by Mbooni MP Michael Kisoli, who rushed to court Thursday to stop the Lawyer Mohammed Nyaoga-led commission. "I do not see the urgency in the matter because the commission was appointed a month ago and parties should have filed the case then," observed the judge.

Nyaoga, the commission's chairperson, said the team is expected to determine the issues raised by the Makueni electorate who petitioned for the county's dissolution. If it finds the grounds strong enough as per Article 192 of the Constitution, then it will recommend the county government's dissolution and report the same to the President.

The sittings, which will start on May 4, will be moved to Makueni County next month after they were adjourned so that all parties can be served with petition papers, said Nyaoga.

"There has been a general perception about commissions in this country; that people only join for sitting allowances and drag the process. This will be a different one. The people of Makueni need answers and we will provide them," said Nyaoga.

The chairperson said the sittings would be moved to Makueni to accommodate the residents' views, adding that they would be identifying locations where sittings would be held in Makueni. "We encourage public participation," he said.

The petitioners will be required to give evidence in support of the petition. Some 50,826 residents petitioned the President over the dissolution of the county. The petitioners argued that members of county assembly (MCAs) are corrupt and are making it difficult for the county government to operate.

Thursday, during the hearing at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre, Francis Mulandi, one of the nine petitioners, told the commission that the squabbles between Governor Kivutha Kibwana and the county assembly had reached irrevocable levels.

Mr Mulandi said 2013/2014 passed without any meaningful development in the county following bad blood between the two. "We are there again," he said.

In a bid to stop the commission, Kisoli had argued, through lawyer Tom Ojienda, that the county government has not set up any structures for public participation that would enable the residents of Makueni to present their views on the petition before signing it.

"The county government has not undertaken any civic education in the area to educate its residents on the contents and consequences of the petition before signing it," he submitted.

The MP added: "To date the commission has never published or publicised the actual petition that is the subject of their intended proceedings scheduled to commence as from April 23 (Thursday) to enable the residents of Makueni County understand the petition and thereby effectively participate in the hearing of the petition," the petition read in part.

The MP added that the people of Makueni were not economically endowed, socially empowered and they did not have access to mainstream media.

"It is therefore a travesty of justice for the commission to fail to publicise the actual petition that is the subject of their intended proceedings held in Makueni County," he said.

Johnston Kavuludi, Emily Gatuguta, Harrison Maithya, Alice Wairimu, Taib Ali Taib are other members of the commission. The suit will be heard on May 24.

The MCAs impeached Kibwana last year.