Ousted Kakamega board members to know fate on February 29

Kakamega County Public Service Board members with their lawyers outside Kakamega County Assembly chambers on April 18, 2023, during the hearing of their petition. [Benjamin Sakwa, Standard]

Kakamega Employment and Labor Relations Court will on February 29 make a ruling on whether or not, the replacement of the ousted Kakamega County Public Service Board will go on.

The board: Catherine Omweno (Chairperson) and members Stanley Were, Ralph Wangatiah, and Joel Omukoko were impeached on December 14, last year by the County Assembly over gross misconduct.

There were accused of violating Chapter 6 of the Constitution, breach of statute law, abuse of office, conflict of interest, and incompetence.

Additionally, they were accused of employing people with questionable academic qualifications and hiring 400 revenue clerks and 74 revenue officers without the approval of the cabinet.

On Friday, during the mention of the matter, Justice Jemimah Keli said that the miscellaneous application by four board members who contested their impeachment will be made on that day.

“Now that all the parties have filed their submissions, I will make a ruling on the 29th of this month,” said Justice Keli.

Dennis Muhanda who was among those who sponsored the impeachment motion has filed a response, including a preliminary objection to both the motion and petition.

Vice-chairperson Ambrose Subayi and Sylvia Otunga (member) survived the ouster and are listed as interested parties in the case.

Justice Keli had earlier extended orders barring Governor Fernandes Barasa from sacking the board members until a ruling on the matter is made and directed the parties to appear before her on February 9 for mention of the case.

The four ousted members obtained orders from Justice Stephen Radido of Kisumu Labour Court after they sued the County Government, Governor Barasa, County Assembly, and County Secretary on a certificate of urgency for what they termed as unfair sacking.

Among other grounds to protect their jobs, they argued that 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 8pm on December 14 last year.

The December 15 advert was later revoked by the County in a subsequent advert on December 16.

"Governor Fernandes  Barasa and the county secretary, after receiving the said resolutions before being communicated to the petitioners (board), have purported to advertise the positions in the local dailies of December 15, yet the resolutions were made on December 14, at 10.30 pm,” they argued.

The four also challenged their removal from office saying the process was illegal.

“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.