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Axed county board officials to know their fate today

Western
Calistus Shifwoka (in blue suit with a diary in his hand) with impeached members of the Kakamega service board on February 9, 2024. [Nathan Ochunge, Standard]

Impeached members of the Kakamega County Public Service Board will know their fate today.

The board has been fighting to overturn a decision of the county assembly to kick them out.

The embattled officials claimed that they were unjustly removed from office, citing procedural irregularities and bias.

"The act of advertising and declaring the positions of all the board members in local dailies just a few hours after their impeachment is in itself suspect. The county assembly proceedings ended at 10.30pm on December 14, last year, and the following day, the advertisement was out," their lawyer, Calistus Shifwoka, told the court.

Governor Fernandes Barasa, the county secretary and the assembly are respondents in the case.

The Governor, while defending the controversial advertisement, cited advanced technology, saying that "you can send an email or WhatsApp advert at 10.30 pm and it will surely find its way in local dailies the following day."

The advertisement was revoked and an amended one was again placed in the local dailies on December 21, calling for qualified candidates to apply for the vacant positions.

Those impeached are chairperson Catherine Omweno, and members Stanley Were, Ralph Wangatiah, and Joel Omukoko. Vice chairman, Ambrose Subayi, and member Sylvia Otunga survived the ouster.

Whereas the Governor maintains the assembly followed due process, the complainants argue that the process was illegal and politically instigated.

"The complaint by the petitioners that they were removed from office illegally is baseless," he said.

"I honestly believe that there was substantial procedural compliance by the 2nd Respondent (County Assembly) in removing the petitioners from office."

Justice Jemimah Keli of the Employment and Labour Relations Court is expected to deliver the ruling today.

Earlier, Justice Keli upheld temporary orders issued by Justice Stephen Radido that barred the Governor from replacing the board members.

“I am satisfied that there is a real danger that the petitioners will suffer prejudice as a result of the violation of their Constitutional Bill of Rights if the conservatory order sought is not granted.

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