Kakamega County service board loses bid to stop impeachment

By Nathan Ochunge | Dec 01, 2023
Kakamega County Public Service Board members with their lawyers outside Kakamega County Assembly chambers on April 18, 2023, during the hearing of their petition. [Benjamin Sakwa, Standard]

Kakamega County Public Service Board (CPSB) suffered a setback after attempts to stop impeachment proceedings against them were dismissed.

The County Assembly Public Service and Administration Committee ruled that the petition filed by Dennis Muhanda will be heard concurrently starting on Monday next week for three consecutive days.

Members of the board through their lawyers, Calistus Shifwoka, Evans Mireri and Wanjala Munyonyi poked holes in the petition for ‘lacking merit and substance.’

The Board members are Catherine Omweno (chairperson), Ambrose Subayi (vice-chairperson), Joel Omukoko, Dr Ralph Wangatiah, Stanley Were and Sylvia Otunga.

“We cannot strike the petition out without considering its substance. Convolution of documents and the manner of acquisition of documents must be put to trial. It’s difficult at this stage without evidence to throw the petition out,” Walunya Indimuli who delivered a ruling on behalf of the committee stated.

"The notice of preliminary objection dated November 27, is not merited in its entirety and is hereby dismissed. The petition shall proceed to full hearing as earlier directed,” added Indimuli.

In its preliminary objection, the board had pocked holes in the petition terming it an abuse of the legal process.

The respondents argued that the evidence presented by the petitioner was obtained illegally and cannot therefore be admitted.

Shifwoka said that part of the evidence presented by Muhanda was official government information obtained illegally.

“Public documents can only be admissible subject to due process. One must make an application, pay and have the documents certified. None of the documents before you are certified. There is no evidence of request of the document by the petitioner and proof of payments,” he said

Shifwoka argued that ‘documents obtained illegally by the petitioner are inadmissible,’ and ‘ought to be expunged from the committee records because they would result in 'the miscarriage of justice’ if accepted.

“We realised that most of the documents were requested for by the county assembly and given to the petitioner since they bear the assembly stamp. The only logical conclusion is that the county assembly requested the documents. There is serious conflict of interest by the committee or members of the committee,” the lawyer argued.

The board also questioned why the petition was received by the county assembly on November 17 but got it commissioned on November 20, in Kisumu when coincidentally, the committee was having an induction in preparation for hearing the petition.

“Justice is asking how the document was received on November 17 at the assembly, back peddles to the originator, and have it commissioned on November 20. This petition was prepared by someone and handed over to the surrogate (petitioner) to prosecute it,” said Mireri, a lawyer representing the board.

“We beseech the committee to have the guts, struck the petition out and bring it to close for it lacks merit," he added.

But Muhanda, while opposing the preliminary objections from the respondents argued that the evidence contested was information in the public domain.

He denied that he obtained the evidence through the county assembly. The petitioner said that the respondents were simply using the preliminary objection to hide some of the issues he wanted responded to and waste time.

“I obtained the documents legally. The objections being raised are a ploy to scuttle the petition. This is not a court process, let’s just go to a full hearing,” said Muhanda

He would later address the media and accuse the board of being corrupt. 

"This service board is very corrupt. They pushed out the secretary of the board to get the opportunity to misuse public funds,” said Muhanda.

“They (service board members) have a battery of lawyers who are just delaying the process. I know they have just said nothing of substance but we shall nail them to the end since I have a ‘serious dossier’ against them,” he added.

The sentiments saw the committee bar the petitioner from making any statement regarding the matter until Monday next week when a ruling will be delivered on the same. Respondents had complained that Muhanda was prosecuting the matter in public and injuring their reputation.

The petition that was filed on October 12 seeks to impeach the entire board. It lists various grounds being advanced for the removal of the board, including serious violation of the Constitution, violation of chapter 6 of the Constitution, breach of statute law, abuse of office, gross misconduct, conflict of interest, and incompetence.

Muhanda who is also the UDA chairman for Kakamega County accuses the board of conspiring with former governor Wycliffe Oparanya to unlawfully remove Catherine Gathoni as a member.

The petitioner has also accused the board of employing people with questionable academic qualifications and hiring 400 revenue clerks and 74 revenue officers without the approval of the cabinet.

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