Three officials of the Kwale County government have challenged a report by ward reps that proposed disciplinary action be taken against them for allegedly irregularly procuring a law firm to recover unpaid debts.
Kelvin Dzumo, Nyamawi Charo and Abdallah Maningi argue that the allegations made against them that resulted in the county assembly declaring them unfit to hold public office were false.
In their petition in the High Court in Mombasa, they rejected the conclusion that the procurement was flawed.
They also say that the law firm worked professionally and their work resulted in the recovery of Sh20 million.
“The entire process resulting in the report was flawed because prior to, during and after the proceedings by the committee (Public Accounts and Investment Committee), we were not supplied with a copy of any petition asking the assembly to undertake any disciplinary proceedings,” the documents say.
They also argue that the report was hastily prepared in a manner confirming that the petition and subsequent proceedings were predetermined and made with motives other than independent investigations of the allegations against them.
They say ward reps do not have the powers to initiate or recommend disciplinary action against them and that they were denied a right to a fair hearing as they were not allowed to cross-examine the evidence of other witnesses who appeared before the committee.
They want a declaration that the tabling, discussion and passing of the report recommending disciplinary action against them violates the Constitution and the rules of natural justice.
They also want the court to rule that the county assembly does not have the power to authorise, direct or dictate to the County Public Service Board to punish them.
According to the three officials, the county assembly passed the Kwale Trade Revolving Fund Act, 2014 to establish, manage and administer the Kwale County Trade Revolving Fund.
They say that Mr Charo has been administering the Fund and as of 2018 there were many defaulters, prompting him to request from Mr Maningi a reputable debt collector to help them recover loans in arrears for six months.
In view of the urgency to recover the debts, they argue, Mr Charo and Mr Maningi were advised that prequalified legal services can be sourced from neighbouring counties in accordance with the Public Procurement and Disposal Act.
“On the basis of the legal advice, we requested from the county government of Kilifi the prequalified legal service providers and on the basis of the list supplied, the petitioners appointed a law firm to assist in recovering defaulting loans,” the petitioners argue.
The debt collector immediately started debt recoveries and was paid Sh2 million for services rendered under the Advocates Remuneration Order.
They then received a notice from the county secretary that they were required to appear before the Public Accounts and Investment Committee to respond to audit queries raised by the Auditor-General over the Fund.
They appeared before the committee and gave evidence as witnesses but in a turn of events, on July 7, the assembly released a report recommending adverse action against them.
The three officials want the court to quash the assembly’s report and a permanent injunction to restrain the assembly or any person under its authority from receiving or acting on the report.