Impeached Migori Speaker in trouble for failing to disclose graft-related cases

Embattled Migori County Assembly Speaker Boaz Okoth.

Embattled Migori County Assembly Speaker Boaz Okoth has suffered a major setback in the battle to keep his job after a court reversed an earlier decision that temporarily suspended his impeachment.

The decision by Justice Stephen Radido of the Employment and Labour Relations followed a successful application by the county assembly and the county assembly clerk challenging an order that granted Okoth conservatory orders suspending his impeachment until a suit he filed challenging MCAs' move to kick him is determined.

Through lawyer Clifford Otieno, the county assembly poked holes in last week's court decision that had given Okoth some reprieve and called for its review.

The lawyer told Justice Radido that the speaker failed to disclose to the court that he was facing multiple graft-related charges when he made his application.

The advocate who represented the county assembly in its case against the speaker was also said to have been representing Okoth in the corruption-related cases, a fact the lawyer allegedly failed to disclose to the court and which amounted to a conflict of interest.

In a matter filed under a certificate of urgency, the county assembly and the clerk claimed there had been an error and omission in the decision that the court delivered on February 15.

They claimed that the advocate who appeared on their behalf had appeared illegally and had failed to disclose his personal interests in the case.

“The petitioner fabricated facts in order to deceive the court and obtain stay orders extending his tenure illegally,” the county assembly and the county assembly clerk told the court.

Otieno claimed the speaker has two pending cases in court. One of the cases, he claimed, related to alleged burglary and an office break-in case.

The lawyer claimed the decision to suspend Okoth's impeachment was bound to hurt the county assembly and the public if it was not reversed.

“The petitioner's continued presence in the office is likely to have an effect on witnesses and documents intended for use in the pending criminal charges,” said Otieno.

The county assembly and the clerk said the orders issued to reinstate the speaker retained “a person charged with a series of criminal charges involving abuse of office which would obstruct the administration of justice”.

Otieno claimed that a failure to stay the earlier orders would cause the county assembly and the public to suffer prejudice.

Acting clerk Vincensia Awino also urged the court to overturn its earlier decision, claiming the speaker had failed to disclose vital information about his pending cases.

“We believe we were not represented or heard during the hearing that resulted in the adverse orders,” she said.

The orders issued on February 15 allowed Okoth to continue serving as the speaker pending the hearing and determination of the suit he had filed to challenge his removal.

However, Justice Radido said the graft-related cases the speaker was facing were not disclosed when he sought conservatory orders, adding that the court did not factor them in its decision.

He ruled that the speaker should be suspended from office based on the Anti-corruption and Economic Crimes law that stipulates that public officers charged with graft-related offenses should be suspended from office when they are charged.

"It is not in dispute that the petitioner was facing corruption charges before he moved to this court. The fact was a relevant fact that which was not disclosed," said Radido.

Okoth was impeached by MCAs on February 8 over claims of gross misconduct.