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President Uhuru hits out at moonlighting state officials

By Sigomba Ramadhan Omar | December 12th 2019

President Uhuru Kenyatta hit out at moonlighting state and public officers during his Jamhuri Day address. [John Muchucha, Standard]

President Uhuru Kenyatta has lashed out at moonlighting state and public officers saying that they are undermining the constitution by serving two masters.

“State and public officers are not above law. Our constitutional order is a jealous one; it demands that state and public officers serve no other master but it,” he said during the Jamhuri Day Celebrations at Nyayo stadium on Thursday.

Uhuru pointed out at parliamentarians and the senators who pose as lawyers defending suspects in the courts.

The president has accused the legislators of engaging in conflict of interest.

“One cannot serve as a legislator at the National or County Level while at the same time practicing law, whether or not for gain,” he said.

His sentiment comes amidst swirling debate after Elgeyo Marakwet Senator Kipchumba Murkomen and his Makueni counterpart Mutula Kilonzo Jr took to court to represent Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko in a graft case. 

Sonko was charged with 19 counts of corruption among them abuse of office, conflict of interest and money laundering. He was freed on Sh15 million cash bail or Sh30 million bond and a surety of similar amount.

Nairobi Senator Johnson Sakaja also blasted the duo for defending Sonko.

Despite an accused person having the right to a lawyer of choice, the Nairobi Senator thinks what his counterparts did was pure conflict of interest.  

“The Senate is mandated to protect county funds from corrupt individuals, not the other way round," said Sakaja.

He added that the senators have already taken a stand before the issue is mentioned in the senate, a house that is supposed to be impartial.

The president in his speech said it was unfair for legislators who have control over funds and exercise oversight over the Judiciary to appear in courts as counsels.

“Is it fair on the judicial officer hearing the case or the other parties that, one party in the case is represented by persons who can literally change the law applicable to the dispute, control the career progression of the judge or magistrate or are able to speak with the voice of an entire arm of Government?” he said.

President Uhuru not only blasted the legislators but also extended the same criticism to those serving in the teaching profession.

“A teacher in the Public Service cannot have one foot in the classroom and the other in Parliament,” he said.

The President appeared to be taking a dig at the Nominated member of Parliament Wilson Sossion, who is also serving as the Secretary General of the Kenya National Union of Teachers.

Sossion has recently been locked up in a battle with a section of Knut members and the Teachers Service Commission.

The commission deregistered Sossion as a teacher after he was nominated as a Member of Parliament by the Orange Democratic Movement but the court overturned the decision.

Uhuru added that every public servant with two jobs should give up one.  

“The position is simple; you either serve the public in the role you signed up for or you serve the Republic as a private practitioner; it is a profound conflict of interest to do both,” he said.

The Head of State directed Attorney General Paul Kariuki to submit to the Cabinet which will transmit to parliament the law on conflict of interest aimed at preventing state and public officials from moonlighting.

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