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How former Nairobi County Finance CEC escaped jail-term

Former Nairobi County Finance CEC, Ms Pauline Kahiga, She had been expected to appear before the court on Monday March 9,2020 at 9:00 am

A wrangle between Mike Sonko, the embattled Nairobi Governor, and the Government Printer occasioned the latter to visit the Attorney General seeking for an advisory opinion as to whether the Governor had disregarded the law by appointing and reshuffling the Nairobi county cabinet. This tussle ended when the Solicitor General commented on the legality of the contested issue stating that the cabinet changes effected by Mike Sonko were legal and hence could be effected by way of a Gazette Notice.

Embroiled at the center of the wrangles was one Ms Pauline Kahiga. In 2019, just before Mike Sonko was arrested in connection to Ksh 357 Million graft allegation, Ms Pauline Kahiga had been moved from the office of the Nairobi County Finance CEC to Education CEC. Nonetheless, a delay in publishing a Gazette Notice to the effect saw Ms Pauline continue taking up functions of the office.

The delay had been occasioned by Government Printer Mwenda Njoka who had asserted that Gazettement had not been done according to the law. This led to a series of events such as Governor Mike Sonko moving to the court through City Lawyer Harrison Kinyanjui. The governor sought an order of mandamus that could compel the Government Printer to review the decision.

However, In a Gazette Notice Issued by Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko on Friday March 6,2020 the reshuffling was effected and Pauline Kahiga was replaced by Allan Esabwa Igambi who took over as the new Nairobi County Finance CEC. The reason as to why Ms Kahiga was replaced is not yet known although city hall insiders speculate that Mike Mbuvi Sonko had fallen out with her over the office’s payment policy with regards to pending bills

It is now evident that the delay in publishing of the Gazette Notice was a blessing in disguise as the former Nairobi county Finance CEC was expected to appear before Justice John Mativo for sentencing. Nonetheless, pursuant to the Gazette Notice, Ms Pauline Kahiga could not appear to the court as she ceased holding the Nairobi CEC Finance docket.

“The High Court has summoned you in your official capacity to appear for sentencing on March 9, 2020 for reasons outlined above…,” read part of the court summons dated March 4, 2020 which had been served by Andrew Ombwayo & Co. Advocates. “It is hereby ordered that summons to issue to one Pauline Nyambura Kahiga Waititu to attend court on March 9, 2020 for sentencing. You, the said Pauline Nyambura Kahiga Waititu, are required to attend court on March 9, 2020 at 9am without fail,” read the order signed by High Court deputy registrar.

The quagmire arising is that the warrant of arrest summons were issued against the office of the CEC Finance whereas Ms Pauline Kahiga ceased holding the office as evinced by the Gazette Notice issued on March 6,2020. This is the second time that sentencing in connection to the same matter has been delayed due to cabinet reshuffles as in November 16, 2017 whereby Justice George Odunga had issued a similar order.

The effect of the occasioned intergovernmental wrangle is that a judgment decree entered into by a Nairobi High Court demanding the county to pay Ksh 10.2 judgment debt to Kepha Maobe and 365 others is set to be postponed. This is because the summons had been issued to Ms Pauline Nyambura Kahga solely and by her dismissal she cannot act in the official capacity of the Nariobi Finance CEC.

“That you are duty bound to pay the judgment debt above of Ksh 10,247,610 exclusive of interest being costs of the suit, before the date of sentencing, which shall mitigate your contempt,” added the summons.

On several other occasions, the office of the Nairobi Finance County CEC has been expected to appear to court for sentencing. However, the county has disregard numerous court summons. In a previous summon issued by the court, the county Finance CEC was required to appear before the court and show cause as to why it was yet to pay Ksh 10.2 million as ordered so by a judgment decree entered to by a Nairobi High Court.

It is not clear if Kepha Maobe and 365 others will get justice because as at now, the issued orders have to be readdressed to the new Nairobi county finance CEC. Moreover, the appellants will also have to wait until the new Nairobi County Finance CEC Allan Esabwa Igambi has been sworn in so that a fresh negotiations can take place.

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