Governor Ongwae defends self on failure to honour Senate summons, pledges co-operation

NAIROBI, KENYA: Kisii Governor James Ongwae has affirmed his readiness to appear before the Senate Public Accounts and Investment Committee to answer to audit queries.

The governor sought to clear any bad impression created over his failure to appear before the committee and subsequent decision to move to court.

Ongwae said he was willing to co-operate with the Senate on questions related to county government finances as raised by the Auditor General.

"I did provide an explanation informing the Senate in advance of my inability to attend due to the existence of the aforesaid court order,” he said.

He admitted receiving the summons by Senator Boni Khalwale (Kakamega).

However, he said he failed to honour the summons following a court order baring the committee from asking governors to appear before it and respond to the audit queries.

“I highly respect the Senate and the committee chaired by Dr Khalwale but the rule of law must prevail,” he said.

“I believe in the rule of law, so I had to respect the court order. However, in the principle of transparency and accountability, I prepared and submitted a detailed response to the financial issues raised in the audit report 2012/2013, which is the basis for the summons.”

Ongwae said the team's letter required him to appear before it on September 30.

However, on September 17, the High Court issued an order restraining Senate from summoning any governor to answer to financial queries, pending the hearing and determination of their petition.

He pleaded with the senators to await the court ruling.

“Every citizen and institution is duty-bound by the Constitution to respect and obey court orders. Some issues raised in the audit report relate to the period 2012/2013 before the county governments were established," he said.