Save our jobs, Kakamega service board pleads with judge

 

Calistus Shifwoka (in a blue suit) with impeached members of the Kakamega service board on February 9, 2024. [Nathan Ochunge, Standard]

The acts of omission and commission in the impeachment process of members of the Kakamega County Public Service Board (CPSB) came back to haunt senior county officials during a heated court session.

The ousted members of the board through their lawyer, Calistus Shifwoka, maintained that the county government embarked on a campaign of premeditated persecution by relentlessly pushing for their impeachment by the County Assembly.

"The act of advertising and declaring the positions of the board members in local dailies just a few hours after their impeachment is in itself suspect. The County Assembly proceedings ended at 10.30 pm on December 14, last year and the following day, the advertisement was out," Shifwoka told the court.

Governor Barasa, the county secretary and the County Assembly are the respondents in the case.

But Patrick Lutta, Governor Fernandes Barasa's lawyer while, told off  Shifwoka saying 'with technology, you can send an email or WhatsApp advert at 10.30 pm and it will surely find its way in the local dailies the following day."

Those impeached include board chairperson Catherine Omweno and members Stanley Were, Ralph Wangatiah and Joel Omukoko. Vice chairman Ambrose Subayi and member Sylvia Otunga survived.

They claim that they were unjustly removed from their roles, citing procedural irregularities and potential biases in the impeachment process.

Shifwoka accused Governor Barasa and the assembly of not coming to the court with clean hands. "The respondents have not presented any record of the hansard proceedings for the three days the board was before the County Assembly Public Service and Administration Committee, after which they originated the supposed impeachment report," he said.

Shifwoka told Justice Jemimah Keli that "what is' before you is a hansard record of December 14, 2023, when the board was removed from office and is limited to a single day."

According to the board, the assembly's Public Service and Administration Committee was already biased. "The committee helped the petitioner (Dennis Muhanda and now 4th respondent) obtain classified government documents that he relied on as evidence. The strength of the evidence presented on the documents that were fraudulently obtained didn't  establish any of the grounds for impeachment," said Shifwoka.

Shifwoka said even the petitioner, during cross-examination before the committee admitted that he had no evidence to support his allegations but the committee went ahead to recommend for their impeachment.

"The manner in which the committee handled the process was in defiance of the constitutional rights of the board members. After the impeachment process, the speaker was to communicate to the governor who would in turn degazette the members but it is the assembly clerk who made the communication to board members," argued Shifwoka.

But Lutta, Barasa's lawyer asked the court to overlook the submissions by the board on grounds that they were defective, saying the petition was an afterthought.

Kennedy Okong’o, County Assembly lawyer, told the court that a person who has lost a job cannot be happy about it adding that the board was rightfully removed from office with 75 percent of the ward reps impeaching the members through a vote.

"A public officer at one time enters the service and must know, the way he or she came they will also leave the service at some point and that is what exactly happened to the board members," said Mr Okong'o.

Marvin Odero, the lawyer of the 4th respondent (Dennis Muhanda) asked the court to dismiss the petition and award the costs of the case to his client.

By AFP 10 hrs ago
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