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City MCAs resolve to terminate the contract of county attorney

NAIROBI
By Josphat Thiongó | July 29th 2021

Mike Sonko was accompanied by County Attorney Lydia Kwamboka when they appeared before the Senate Public Accounts and Investment Committee. [File ,Standard]

A crisis is looming at City Hall after Members of County Assembly (MCAs) resolved to terminate the services of County Attorney Lydia Kwamboka.

The ward representatives on Tuesday adopted a report by the Justice and Legal Affairs Committee that recommended the termination of Kwamboka’s contract for abuse of office and operating without a valid advocate practising certificate.

The report stemmed from an investigation by the committee, which had been probing a petition by John Mark Ojiambo who sought the removal of Kwamboka “on behalf of Kenyan citizens and Nairobi tax payers”.

In his petition, Ojiambo claimed that Kwamboka was illegally in office since her one-year contract lapsed in 2018 while she was serving suspension under the then Governor Mike Sonko-led regime.

On her return, stated Ojiambo, Kwamboka’s contract was renewed without vetting as required by law.

The county attorney was also accused of single-sourcing Njenga Maina and Company Advocates to take up over 60 cases related to City Hall yet the law firm had not been prequalified to offer legal services to the county.

Legal fees

According to the report, the law firm is now demanding Sh300 million in legal fees from the county. It had already been paid Sh60 million in contravention of the Public Finance Management Act, 2012.

“The county attorney allegedly runs Njenga Maina and Company Advocates by proxy and has beneficial interests,” stated the petition.

Kwamboka is also accused of nepotism as all the four directorates under her office are headed by people from her tribe.

Moreover, the county attorney is accused of engaging in professional misconduct by practising without a valid certificate. The petition noted that the Advocates Act requires every advocate to take a practising certificate at the beginning of each year, but Kwamboka did not do so in 2020.

The MCAs said this exposes the county to invalidation of legal instruments and to unwarranted legal action.

The report by the Justice committee noted that Kwamboka did not honour summons by the committee on July 6, 2021.

But in her submissions, she claimed she was not aware of the petition by Ojiambo, thus it would be procedurally unfair to expect her to respond to the same.

On the validity of her contract, she maintained that she was duly appointed by Sonko in 2018 but she, alongside three other county officials, were suspended for alleged insubordination over the Pumwani Maternity Hospital saga.

“After my suspension, I was recalled on October 1, 2019, where the former governor extended my contact until December 2022,” she said.

She also defended Njenga Maina and Company Advocates, saying it had been prequalified and awarded tender NCC/NCM.PREQ/001/B9/2017-18-2018-2019.

This, however, contradicted submissions by the County Secretary Jairus Musumba, which indicated that the law firm was not on the list of prequalified legal firms that offered services to the county from 2013 up to date.

Kwamboka further termed the nepotism and incompetency claims as baseless.

The Joseph Komu-led committee, however, found that Kwamboka had flouted the provisions of the Public Procurement and Asset Disposal Act, 2021, through the issuance of instructions to un-prequalified law firm and that she contravened the Constitution on National Values and Principles of Governance.

Based on the observations, it recommended that the county government terminate her services. Speaker Benson Mutura communicated the decision to Deputy Governor Anne Kananu.

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