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CASs assume office despite court order, opposition by the public

 Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua met the new Chief Administrative Secretaries (CASs) Ms Ann Wanjiku Mwangi, Mr Edwin Sudi Wandabusi and Mr Nicholas Ngabiya Rioba who reported to his Office on Thursday, March 23, 2023. [DPSC]

President William Ruto's Cabinet Administrative Secretaries have assumed office despite a court order barring the move and opposition by the public.

On a day marked by anti-government protests by the Azimio supporters, it emerged that the 50 CASs had taken office with some having embarked on their new roles.

This was even as the High Court declined to suspend the order, with Justice Hedwig Ong'udi instead directing that a suit by lawyer Adrian Kamotho seeking to lift the orders be served on the Law Society of Kenya and Katiba Institute for them to respond before she gives directions on the way forward.

Kamotho in his petition claimed that LSK and the lobby group misled the court into issuing the orders and pleaded with the court to allow the 50 CASs to assume office.

"The petitioners intentionally misled the court that President William Ruto illegally created additional 27 positions by appointing 50 CAS instead of 23 when they are aware that there is no law that bars the president from appointing any number of CASS," said Kamotho.

Justice Ong'udi last week stopped the CASs from drawing salaries, remunerations or benefits for their new offices pending the determination of a suit filed by LSK and Katiba Institute challenging the legality of their positions. The suit is set for hearing on Tuesday, March 28.

Confirmation of CASs taking office first came in form a congratulatory message by Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua.

"I met the new CASs attached to my office this morning. Ann Wanjiku, Edwin Sudi Wandabusi, and Nicholas Rioba reported to the office on Thursday after they were sworn in at State House, Nairobi," the DP tweeted.

Shortly after, Interior CS Kithure Kindiki sent out a statement delegating duties to three CASs appointed to his docket; former Nominated Senator Millicent Omanga, former Narok Governor Samuel Tunai and former Ambassador Mohamud Saleh.

Omanga was assigned to the State Department for Immigration and Citizen Services where she will be in charge of reforms in the Civil Registration Services (CRS), the National Registration Bureau (NRB), and the Department of Refugee Affairs (DRA).

Tunai was assigned to the State Department for Internal Security and National Administration while Saleh was assigned to the State Department for Correctional Services (in charge of reforms in the Kenya Prisons Service (KPS), Borstal Institutions, and the Probation Department).

"For the effective delivery of services, the allocation of responsibilities is as follows, subject to the outcome of the ongoing judicial processes," Prof Kindiki said. Youth Affairs and Sports CAS Charles Njagua alias Jaguar also took to social media to express his gratitude to the Head of State for his appointment all the while confirming that he'd hit the ground running.

"Work has started," Jaguar captioned one of his photos online in Swahili. A spot-check by The Standard showed the majority of the CASs, including Foreign Affairs CASs Joash Maangi and Cate Waruguru had reported to their new stations despite the court order.

The decision to have the CASs assume office has put the Ruto administration, which has been accused of trying to control the courts, on a collision path with the Judiciary and portends a tumultuous relationship.

It is seen as a flagrant affront to the rule of law as Kenyans continue to criticise Ruto's bloated Cabinet.

The courts barred the CASs from assuming office pending the hearing and determination of a suit filed by the Law Society of Kenya (LSK) and Katiba Institute.

Justice Hedwig Ong'undi temporarily barred the 50 CASs from earning any salary, remuneration and benefit until the case is heard and determined.

"Having read through the annexures, I am satisfied that interim conservatory orders are necessary. I, therefore, grant Prayer No 2 of the Notice of Motion in the interim," ruled Justice Ong'undi.

The petitioners moved to court saying the President was not constitutionally empowered to create an office in the Public Service except upon the express recommendations of the Public Service Commission.

They were also against the move by President Ruto to nominate 50 officials to the office of the CASs against an earlier approved office establishment of 23. The case will be mentioned on March 28.

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