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Watchdog probes top official’s stay in two public offices

COUNTIES
By Geoffrey Mosoku | October 17th 2013

By Geoffrey Mosoku

Nairobi, Kenya: The Efficiency Monitoring Unit (EMU) is probing whether Kenya School of Law (KSL) Director Prof Kulundu-Bitonye is holding two public positions against the law.

EMU is seeking to establish why Prof Bitonye is yet to relinquish the position of secretary to the Council of Legal Education (CLE), which is a regulator of legal education in Kenya.

By holding the two positions of CEO to a service provider and secretary to a regulator of the sector, Prof Kulundu-Bitonye is in a spot over conflict of interest.

EMU, which is under the Deputy President’s office, has instituted an audit into systems and management of both the CLE and KSL.

Separated functions

Under the new Constitution and to enhance efficient service delivery in the legal education sector, the government enacted two laws in September last year that separated the functions and operations of KSL and CLE; the Legal Education Act and the Kenya School of Law Act.

The two statutes separated the regulatory function from service delivery. The new regulations came into effect in January this year but nine-months later, the KSL boss is still serving as CLE secretary, which now raises issues of conflict of interest.

“No express provisions exist in law nor was it contemplated that at any one time, that the same individual would occupy the office of both CEO and Secretary at KSL and CLE. A situation in which the roles of CEO/Secretary at KSL & CLE are resident in the same person not only raises questions of irregularity but also flies in the face of statutory intent that regulatory functions be distinct from implementation issues,” Principal Administrative Secretary in the Office of Deputy President, Daniel Wambura, wrote to CLE Chairman Fred Ojiambo.

Wambura’s letter dated September 26 argues that “the existence of such a situation no doubt warrants an administrative inquiry to ensure no prejudice has been occasioned to good public administration.”

“We write, therefore, to strongly urge your office to extend full and unimpeded cooperation to the EMU in its current audit of your institution,” the letter adds.

It is copied to KSL chairperson Prof Patricia Kameri-Mbote, Prof Kulundu-Bitonye, Attorney General Prof Githu Muigai, Solicitor General Njee Muturi, Acting Inspector-General of State Corporations E M Ngigi and Auditor General Edward Ouko.

On September 16, EMU Director Vincent Nyagilo wrote to KSL raising concerns in respect to governance. Investigations were to be undertaken at both KSL and CLE.

“After consultations with the chairpersons of CLE and KSL, please furnish us with specific and further particulars for the institution to commence preparing the documentation and information. Quite clearly the term ‘governance’ is a generic term which may mean many terms,” Prof Kulundu-Bitonye replied to EMU the following day (September 17).

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