Orders barring replacement of ousted board members extended

A court in Kakamega has extended orders barring area governor Fernandes Barasa from replacing members of the County Public Service Board (CPSB) following their ouster by the assembly.

High Court judge Jemimah Keli said the temporary orders, first given last month by the labour court in Kisumu, should remain in force even as the county failed to respond to a petition by the four board members who contested their impeachment by the county assembly.

After their removal, the position of the four were subsequently declared vacant and advertised.

Justice Keli directed the county government and the governor to respond to the petition by the four who have since served them respondents with court papers.

Certificate of urgency

“Ensure you (governor and county government) serve your submissions in response to the case of the plaintiffs within three days,” said Justice Keli said of the case filed under a certificate of urgency.

She added: “All parties, including the interested parties who are enjoined in the case, should equally make submissions within the three days so that when the court sits on February 5, I give further directions on the proceedings.”

Patrick Lutta, lawyer for Mr Barasa and the county government, told the court he was not ready to proceed with the case as his clients’ response was not ready.

“I have not filed the responses as I received the final orders yesterday (Wednesday),” the lawyer said.

The four obtained the orders following a ruling by Justice Stephen Radido of Kisumu after they sued the county government, the governor, the county assembly and county secretary, for what they termed unfair sacking. By that time, then the court in Kakamega was on recess.

Justice Radido directed Barasa, the county assembly, the county secretary, and Mr Dennis Muhanda, who sponsored the impeachment petition, to file responses, including preliminary objections to both the motion and petition, within 15 days of service, which lapsed three weeks ago.

The four CPSB argued their sacking was premeditated as an advertisement to replace them ran in a newspaper a few hours after MCAs impeached them in a session that ended at 8 pm on December 14 last year. The December 15 advert was later revoked by the county in a subsequent advert on December 16.

“Governor Barasa and the county secretary, after receiving the said resolutions before being communicated to the petitioners (board), purported to advertise the positions in the local dailies of December 15, yet the resolutions were made on December 14, at 10.30 pm,” the four - board’s chairperson Catherine Omweno and members Stanley Were, Ralph Wangatiah, and Joel Omukoko - said.

Vice-chairperson Ambrose Subayi and member Sylvia Otunga survived the ouster and have been listed as interested parties in the case.

They challenged their removal from office saying the process was illegal and politically instigated.

Irregular sitting

“The second respondent (county assembly) in a clandestine, illegal and irregular sitting, session and proceeding on December 14 contrary to requirements of Article 251 of the Constitution purported to resolve, recommend and remove from office chairperson and members of the board,” they say in their court papers filed by lawyer Carlestous Shifwoka.

They added: “The respondents are poised to install a new chairperson and members of CPSB, through a sham process, given the illegal and unprocedural advertisement already in circulation. They will do this any time from this moment, without the petitioners receiving communication of the new development.”

They lamented that they had been locked out of office and, therefore, unable to discharge their duties.

The applicants are also unhappy that it was the acting clerk of the county assembly who communicated to them the decision oust them, and not the governor, who is the appointing authority. 

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