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Governor Isaac Ruto escapes jail term for contempt of court

RIFT VALLEY
By Nikko Tanui | February 5th 2016
Bomet Governor Isaac Ruto speaks outside the Kericho law courts

Kericho, Kenya: Bomet governor Isaac Ruto and three other senior county officers escaped jail term for contempt of court after they presented themselves before Justice Njagi Marete of the Employment and Labour Relations Court.

Acting County Secretary Mr Kilelson Mutai, Human Resource Director Mrs Ann Turgut and payroll Manager Mr Moses Rono were the other senior county officers who had risked being condemned to jail.

 The court had on Wednesday ordered the four to appear before it in person to answer to contempt charges following alleged failure by the County Government to effect salary payments for 287 former employees of the defunct Local Authorities.

 Justice Marete criticized the advocates in the case; Andrew Matwere for the County Government and Brian Otieno for the litigants for failing to communicate after it emerged before the court that the county had released the workers dues.

 The court in December, stepped in forcing the warring factions to enter a five point signed consent in December 17, which would allow the workers to be paid their salaries.

“Instead of dragging the Governor and the three senior officers as well as the 287 employees to court, the advocates should have first consulted amongst themselves on the areas which had not been operationalized in the agreement,” justice Marete said.

 He pointed out that there are open channels which include but are not limited to dialogue, correspondence and even phone calls which you should have used to avoid the situation.

 “What is clearly emerging is that the counsels for the parties involved in the case did not consult at all,” said Justice Marete.

 The Judge appeared to have been irked by the revelation that indeed the November December and January salaries for the 287 employees including their 2015 leave allowances had been paid contrary to claims by the litigants.

 “The money were wired to the various banks and SACCOs accounts of the employees from Central Bank following instructions from the County government Human Resource and Payroll departments on December 24,2015,”

 “There could have been a delay due to technicalities involving various banks and I am sorry for if there was any inconvenience brought about by the part of the banks,” Matwere informed the court.

 But Otieno told the court that he learned of the payment at the floor of the court.

 “By the time of filing the contempt of court application. The information we are relying on is that the county paid the money yesterday,” he said.

 Marete directed that the Governor, the three officers and the litigants be released to return to their stations and discharge their mandate of serving the people of Bomet County while the lawyers are left to consult and report back to the court.

 The 287  employees had filed a case in the High Court challenging a decision by the County Government of Bomet to have them re-apply for their jobs through the County Public Service Board (CPSB) for them to formally be taken on board as County employees or they be released to the national government.

 The litigants are also challenging a move to redeploy them to various departments and by the Human Resource Department.

 The court in December the county government to continue discharging its mandate over the former employees of the defunct Bomet County Council, Bomet Municipal Council and the Sotik Town Council currently on secondment to the county as provided in the law.

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