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County attorney's tenure is tied to governor's term in office, court rules

COUNTIES
By Joackim Bwana | March 16th 2021
Kilifi Governor Amason Kingi at a past function in Mtwapa, Kilifi County, early this year. [Kelvin Karani, Standard]

Security of tenure for county attorneys is tied to a governor’s term in office, the court has ruled.

They are required to leave office the same way as advisers and County Executive Committee members when a governor dies or his term ends to pave way for the new county boss to bring in his team.

While referring to sections of the County Attorney Act, 2020, Justice Byram Ongaya said the County Attorney Generals (AGs) can only serve for a period of six years or until the governors’ tenure in office lapse.

The judge said all the county AGs appointed by governors under section 31 of the County Attorney Act, 2020, are expected to vacate office at the end of a six-year period or after the end of the governors’ tenure.

The judge directed that the judgement be served to all the 47 counties through the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Council of Governors within seven days with an aim of bringing them to the attention of the matter.

“Accordingly, the court directs that the petitioner will serve the judgement upon the CEO (of CoG) with a view of bringing the judgement to the attention of all the 47 county governments,” said Justice Ongaya.

The judge made the decision in a case filed by Commission for Human Rights and Justice challenging the appointment of Kilifi County AG Bibi Fondo. 

Kilifi Governor Amason Kingi had on October 14, last year appointed Fondo to serve as the county’s AG for a period of six years with effect from July 27, 2020. 

The petitioner, Julius Ogogoh, had sued Fondo, Kingi and the Kilifi County Public Service Board, saying the appointment, swearing in and assumption of office by Fondo was unprocedural, illegal and null and void.

In his judgement, Ongaya said the county’s chief legal advisers should serve terms commensurate with those of the current governor, until lapsing of six years, or whichever comes first.

“A declaration is hereby issued that the letter be amended to declare; you will continue in service as County Attorney, County of Kilifi for a term commensurate to the term of the current governor, or, until lapsing of six years from July 27, 2020, whichever comes first,” stated the judge.

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