Nairobi ward reps vote to send county attorney home

Former Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko, ousted county attorney Lydia Kwamboka and other county officials back in 2018.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

The fate of Nairobi County attorney Lydia Kwamboka hangs in the balance after ward reps voted to send her home in a move that could plunge the devolved unit’s legal department into a crisis.

The ward reps on Thursday approved a report by the assembly’s Justice and Legal Affairs committee to terminate Ms Kwamboka’s contract. Speaker Benson Mutura subsequently wrote to acting Governor Anne Kananu informing her of the resolution.

“This is therefore to forward to you the resolutions of the assembly that the acting governor terminates the services of Lydia Kwamboka as the county attorney in accordance with Section 13 of the Office of the County Attorney Act, 2020,” stated the Speaker.

Trouble began for Ms Kwamboka when a resident, Mr John Mark Ojiambo, petitioned the assembly in April calling for her removal from office over claims of “incompetency and being in office irregularly”.

Mr Ojiambo alleged that the attorney’s one-year contract lapsed while she was under suspension in 2018. He also claimed that Ms Kwamboka had not renewed her practicing certificate, meaning she had violated the Advocates Act.

She also reportedly single-sourced Njenga Maina and Company Advocates to take over 60 county cases yet it was not listed among the prequalified firms identified for legal services.

“The county attorney allegedly runs Njenga Maina and Company Advocates by proxy and has beneficial interests. Her conduct therefore does not meet the provisions of Article 10 and Chapter Six of the Constitution hence unfit to hold office,” Mr Ojiambo said.

Based on the findings

The committee chaired by Joseph Komu launched investigations into the allegations and returned the verdict on Tuesday.

In its findings, it submitted that according to the Law Society of Kenya, Ms Kwamboka had contravened the Advocates Act and LSK statutes by practicing and purporting to practice without a valid certificate for the year 2020.

The county attorney was also found to have contravened Article 10 of the Constitution in her decision to stay in office despite expiry of her contract, continuing to cost taxpayers unnecessary costs.

On allegations of nepotism, it was observed that the county legal department is headed by members of one ethnic group.

She was also found to have flouted the provisions of the Public Procurement and Asset Disposal Act, 2021 through the issuance of instructions to an un-prequalified law firm, Njenga Maina and Company Advocates.

The firm does not appear in the list of prequalified suppliers as required by Section 57 of the Public Procurement and Asset Disposal Act 2015.

Based on the findings, the committee recommended that the assembly terminates Ms Kwamboka’s contract and also instructed Ms Kananu to withdraw the services of Njenga Maina and Company Advocates.

They instructed the executive to assign the duties to internal advocates or a law firm that is prequalified to offer legal services.

Ms Kwamboka said she had a one-year contract, which was renewable based on her performance. After her suspension, she was reportedly recalled on October 1, 2019 and her contract extended to December, 2022.

On whether she held a 2020 practicing certificate, Ms Kwamboka said LSK announced on April 6 that a county attorney, just like any other public officer, was not required to have it.

She termed accusations of nepotism as baseless, outrageous and unfounded.

“I have diligently discharged my duties as the County attorney and that the deputy governor has not found me guilty of any of the stipulated grounds that may warrant grounds for my removal. In the interest of justice and fairness, the petition be dismissed as no evidence has been adduced to substantiate my removal from office,” she said.

Ms Kwamboka said Njenga Maina and Company Advocates is prequalified to offer services although the firm was missing from the list that was presented to the committee by acting County Secretary Jairus Musumba.