Azimio, Kenya Kwanza MPs clash over arrest of Nyakang'o

Controller of Budget Margaret Nyakang'o at a Mombasa court on Tuesday. [Kelvin Karani, Standard]

MPs from across the political divide Wednesday had heated exchanges over the arrest and prosecution of the Controller of Budget Margaret Nyakang'o.

Tempers flared after leaders from the opposition accused the ruling Kenya Kwanza of trying to kick out Dr Nyakang'o, who was on Tuesday arraigned in a Mombasa court, owing to her firm stance against corruption.

National Assembly Minority Leader Opiyo Wandayi rose on a point of order and invited the Speaker to make a ruling on the way forward on the matter.

“I think it is the first time that the holder of a constitutional office has been charged in a court of law since 2010. This raises serious questions. The Controller of Budget is exercising her mandate pursuant to the function of this House of appropriating funds. There is a notion created out there that the office of Controller of Budget is now vacant following her arraignment in court or she is now impeded from performing her functions,” said Wandayi.

The Ugunja MP went on to accuse Kenya Kwanza of seeking to replace her with a “friendly” officer.

“Some of us are of the strong view that she (Nyakang'o) is being hounded out of office for her strong stand against corruption. The functions of COB are so important to the nation and therefore any insinuation that she is barred from her duties can cause a lot of distress in the economy generally," he said.

Suna East MP Junet Mohammed questioned the timing of the arrest and castigated members of Parliament who supported the prosecution.

“Mr Speaker, we have to look at this matter retrospectively. As a House, we passed Margaret Nyakang'o here and I participated in 2019 in passing her as the Controller of Budget after a thorough vetting by the Finance committee. Didn't we know that she had a case at that time?” said Junet.

“What indictment is that on us a Parliament Mr Speaker? Because she came with documents from relevant organisations that deals with criminal offences, the EACC, DCI and here years later we are told that she had a matter pending.”

Majority Leader Kimani Ichung'wah accused the opposition of trying to instigate a political duel and urged them to let it be handled by the courts.

“I would want to urge all of us treat the matter as what it is. I agree with the Minority Leader that Nyakang'o holds an independent office. What I don’t agree with is that holders of independent offices there is absolutely nothing in the constitution that says they cannot be charged or is above the law,” he said.

When the CoB appeared before the National Dialogue Committee last month, she said that her salary had been pegged at almost two times more than what she earns, pointing to budgeted corruption by the Treasury.

Speaker Moses Wetang'ula warned the MPs from prejudicing the matter and abstained from giving a way forward.

“Honourable members, let's not prejudice Dr Nyakango's  case. If what Wandayi is alleging is true, and he has evidence to show the Speaker, then the Speaker will have a some locus on the matter. As it is now, I have absolutely no locus… You may think that you are defending Nyakang'o but you are actually prejudicing her case through debate,” he said.

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