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Senate committee orders arrest of Governor Wycliffe Oparanya for snubbing summons

COUNTIES
By Moses Njagih | July 28th 2016
Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya

Nairobi: A parliamentary watchdog committee has directed the Inspector General of Police Joseph Boinnet to arrest Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya and produce him before it on Monday.

The County Public Accounts and Investment Committee dismissed a team led by Kakamega Deputy Governor Prof Philip Kutima that had been sent by Oparanya to appear before it and defend the audit queries raised against the county executive, insisting that they had only summoned the county boss.

The House committee invoked the powers granted to it by the constitution under Article 125, granting it the powers of the High Court to order the arrest of the Governor, who has severally snubbed their invites and summons.

Oparanya had failed to honour the committee’s invite to respond to queries raised by the auditor in respect to Sh7.4 billion in financial year 2013/2014 prompting the committee to issue summons to appear, which again he defied Thursday.

“We also direct that before he leaves, the deputy Governor lists all the employees who travelled here, indicate the per diem paid to them and air tickets for their travel so that the auditors can cost the expenditure to be surcharged on Oparanya,” directed sessional chairman West Pokot Senator Prof John Lonyangapuo.

The committee said the money must be recovered from Oparanya and not from the county government coffers.

Committee members accused Oparanya of continued contempt of the House business, insisting that the Governor must honour the law and appear before them.

Last year, the same committee directed the arrest of Oparanya, which was effected before he was arraigned in court. The Governor however did not take plea to the criminal offence after he moved to high court to challenge the order.

Efforts by the Deputy Governor and County Attorney Sande Lukhale to address the House on why the Governor could not appear on grounds of the case before the court were dismissed, with senators noting that the matter before court was in respect to queries on a different financial year.

“It is not fathomable for the Governor to tell us that he can be represented here when the summons issued were very personal. We said that he appears in person. If this committee gives him this latitude it will be defying the constitution,” said Kiambu Senator Kimani Wamatangi.

He added: “If we look at the queries raised by the Governor, they are in billions, there is over Sh1.5 billion on a query on imprests and we cannot give room to the governor not to appear here, unless if he resigns forthwith”.

Vihiga Senator George Khaniri said that those who chose to be governors must know that they have to face accountability, which is not a choice for them.

“We are not interested in listening to the legal opinion of the Governors legal advisor. Let us order for his arrest and have him frog-marched here. He will not treat us to this theatre,” Khaniri said.

Kakamega Senator Boni Khalwale said the Governor cannot be allowed to escape appearing before the committee when all other county heads were appearing to defend themselves.

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