Court finds Trans-Nzoia taskforce unconstitutional, orders audit of pending bills

Trans-Nzoia County Governor George Natembeya.[Elvis Ogina,Standard]

A High Court in Kitale has ruled that the Trans-Nzoia County violated the Constitution by establishing a taskforce on pending bills without legal authority.

The taskforce, which was supposed to audit and verify the bills owed by the County Government to various suppliers and contractors, was found to have infringed on the powers of the Auditor General and wasted public funds.

The court ordered the dissolution of the taskforce and directed the Auditor General to conduct a comprehensive audit of the pending bills.

The case was filed by Kevine Otieno Ondago, who challenged the legality and impartiality of the taskforce members, who he says were not appointed in a transparent or competitive manner, and who received huge allowances without any justification.

The respondents in the case were Trans-Nzoia Governor George Natembeya, the County Government of Trans-Nzoia, and the County Executive Committee Member for Finance, the Chief Officer Finance, and 11 members of the taskforce.

In his defence, Governor Natembeya and his co-accused argued that the taskforce was a necessary measure to address the problem of pending bills, which had accumulated to over Sh2 billion, and that it was not interfering with the functions of the Auditor General, but rather complementing them.

In his judgment on September 19, 2023, Justice Anthony Mrima declared that the taskforce was illegal, null and void, and that it contravened the provisions of Article 174(a), (i) and Article 229 of the Constitution.

He also found that the taskforce members were not qualified, independent or impartial, and that they were paid excessive allowances without any legal basis.

 He directed the Auditor General to conduct a comprehensive audit of the pending bills and report to the court.

“In the event the Auditor General reject the audit report by the taskforce in its entirety or if the 1st Respondent fails to effect service of the report and judgment as directed, the declaration of unconstitutionality of the taskforce and its report shall forthwith take effect,” ruled Mrima.