Mombasa County Secretary Francis Thoya has distanced himself from the failure by the county government to pay over Sh5 million accruing from taxation of 37 court matters.
A lawyer, Charles Opulu accused him and Chief Officer Finance Aisha Abdi of declining to pay the debt as ordered by the court. However Thoya told Justice Eric Ogola that his office had no role to play in payment of money owed by the county to any party.
Thoya had been summoned to appear before the court to show reason why he should not be committed to six months jail for failure to honor and execute orders by Justice Ogola directing the county to pay Sh5,393,465 in taxation fees.
In his defense, Thoya said that the people liable to pay off the money were the Chief Officer Finance Aisha Abdi, County Attorney Mtalaka Mwashimba and County Executive Finance Mariam Mbaruk.
“A wrong party has been sited. The county secretary has no role in making payment decisions. The decision to pay is made by County Attorney, County Executive Finance and Chief Officer Finance,” said Thoya.
He also denied fixing his colleagues and said that he only pointed out the office responsible to pay the debt.
“I said that Aisha and Mwashimba are culpable, but also gave the challenges they are facing and if solved, they would pay the debt,” said Thoya.
Thoya said that the county was still waiting for the Intergovernmental Relations Technical Committee IRTC to verify all liabilities before the debt is settled.
“This process of IRTC is the one holding the payment of Mr. Opulu. Once it is done and we are guaranteed the permission, we shall proceed to pay,” said Thoya.
He said the report had already been submitted before the council of governors, the summit body that brings governors and head of state who determine the liabilities to be shared by the national and county governments.
Thoya said that the debt dates back to the era of municipal councils before devolution and was inherited by the county of Mombasa.
“I know a decision will be made soon on it because it is an issue that cuts across. Therefore the county attorney should appear and explain about the IRTC,” said Thoya.
However, Opulu said that the high Court had already ruled on the matter and cannot go back to review its own orders.
Thoya said that if the committee decided against payment of debt, they would appeal.
“If the report recommends we pay, we will pay but if it advices otherwise we will appeal the court’s decision,” said Thoya.
Opulu said that the decision to pay the debt had been reached through consent and nothing was ever raised about the IRTC.