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Kabogo, Wamatangi clash over audit queries as residents demand refund of monies from county.

Kiambu Governor William Kabogo when he appeared before the Senate Public Accounts Committee on Thursday. 
A Senate watchdog committee nearly adjourned its sittings on Thursday after Kiambu Senator Kimani Wamatangi yesterday clashed with Governor William Kabogo over the management of the county’s resources.

The two, who were before the Senate Public Accounts Committee chaired by West Pokot Senator John Lonyangapuo to answer audit questions raised during the 2014/2015 financial year, engaged in a bitter exchange with the senator, almost bringing proceedings to a halt.

The duo faced-off over the county’s inability to recover huge rate arrears from property owners.
Auditor General Edward Ouko’s 2014-15 audit report for Kiambu shows the county has rate arrears amounting to Sh2.6 billion, accrued from the former local authorities.

Wamatangi and the committee demanded an explanation on why the Kiambu administration has not recovered the funds, two months to the August polls.

Kabogo said his government adopted measures to recover the funds, but that did not work. He absolved himself from blame and told the senators that he had put in place measures to encourage the defaulters to pay up, but regretted that his efforts had borne little fruit. He added that Kiambu County conducted education forums, issued demand notices and advertised rate waivers to help clear the arrears. Kabogo said this forced them to ask Parliament for help.

“I have issued up to three waivers and the response has not been encouraging. There are people out there, who view the county government as a toothless dog, because it can’t auction their property,” he said.

But Wamatangi said, “The governor should tell us the amount raised as a result of the three adverts he placed and what remains as the outstanding balance.”

Meanwhile, a group of Kiambu residents want Governor Kabogo, his cabinet and all ward representatives (MCAs) to refund the monies and other benefits they were paid in form of salaries and allowances while in office on grounds that they failed to perform their mandate.

This follows a ruling by Justice Isaac Lenaola in February this year, which annulled all the county legislations on grounds of their constitutionality since they were never published in the Kenya 
Gazette, as mandated by Article 199 (1) of the Constitution.

Justice Lenaola, in his judgment delivered on his behalf by Justice Chacha Mwita, had however given the county n a 90-day window to regularise the legislations, and allow it to use the “illegal laws” to avert staling of operations.

But should the county fail to do correct things within the three-month period set by the court, Justice Lenaola ruled that it would automatically lead to invalidation of the laws.

On Thursday, seventy residents led by James Gacheru filed a petition at the Kiambu High Court seeking a determination as to whether members of county executive and the assembly deserved any form of payment, arguing that all their functions in the last four years were unconstitutional.

“The court should determine whether persons elected, nominated or appointed state offices can neglect, ignore or refuse to discharge their statutory duties for which they mandated discharge, and at the same time draw salaries and emoluments from public coffers,” the petition read in part.

The petitioners are of the view that the county executive and the MCAs have nothing to show for their work since all the legislation which they approved, were nullified, and therefore ought not to have been paid anything.

Should the respondents be found not to have performed their duties, the petitioners want Justice Joel Ngugi to order the county secretary and the County Assembly to recover all the monies paid to the governor, his deputy Gerald Githinji, all county ministers, Speaker Gathii Irungu and 82 MCAs.

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