Supreme Court: Senate can summon governors

Martha Koome

CJ Martha Koome and her deputy Philomena Mwilu. The apex court says senators must protect the interests of counties.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

The Supreme Court has endorsed powers of the Senate to summon governors.

Dismissing arguments by the Council of Governors that county assemblies are the only organs that have an oversight authority over county executives, the court said the Senate is established to perform fundamental roles of governance concerning devolution.

Chief Justice Martha Koome and her team also dismissed the argument that only members of the County Executive Committee or the chief officers responsible for finance can appear before the Senate or any of its committee to answer queries on expenditure.

Without power to summon governors, the court said, the Senate would not be able to “protect the interests of counties, nor would it be able to exercise effective oversight over revenue allocated to counties”.

The court said there is no way the Senate can perform its role without having the powers to summon a governor and to require him/her provide answers and offer explanations regarding the management of county finances and related affairs.

It declared that the Senate oversight authority is not limited to nationally allocated revenue but also extends to locally generated revenue.

The judges said county assemblies have the power of first tier oversight over devolved government revenue, whether nationally allocated or locally generated.

The court was ruling on an appeal filed by the Senate against the Court of Appeal’s finding that the oversight function of the Senate is limited to national revenue allocated to the devolved administrations.

The other judges on the bench were Mohammed Ibrahim, Smokin Wanjala, Njoki Ndung’u and William Ouko.

The Supreme Court said the fact that county revenue is locally generated does not remove it from the purview of Senate oversight.