City at pains to account for Sh100 million paid to lawyers

Lillian Mutavi @PeopleDailyKe

Nairobi County government may have lost at least Sh100 million irregularly paid as legal fees for the financial year 2015/16, according to the Auditor General.

The report indicates that the county legal department spent Sh580 million on lawyers which was in excess of the approved budget of Sh480 million in the said financial year.

Appearing before the County Assembly Public Accounts Committee chaired by Mabatini MCA Wilfred Odalo, the finance department admitted to having overspent on the payment, but failed to bring to the Assembly the expenditure for regularisation.

The committee heard that finance bosses in City Hall did not provide payment vouchers to support the over expenditure, raising concerns the money could have been embezzled.

The list of law firms that were paid was also not provided. 

Acting Finance chief officer Ekaya Alumasi last Thursday admitted a supplementary budget was not presented to the House for regularisation.

“The legal department made an effort to regularise the expenditure and presented a proposed supplementary budget to the legal and budget committees of the county assembly,” he said.

He defended the payments, saying City Hall acted on court orders and that the county and some officials could have been cited for contempt if they had failed to pay.

Section 135 of the Public Finance Management Act allows the county governments to over expend but requires them to regularise it, in form of a supplementary budget within two months of the expenditure.

However,  committee members questioned how the proposed supplementary budget could have reached the budget and legal affairs committees, but failed to be tabled in the House.

“The law is clear that it requires a supplementary budget to be approved by the county assembly, not committees. There is no way the budget could have reached the committee and fail to reach the Assembly. That is impossible,” said Karen MCA David Mberia.

Kilimani MCA Moses Ogeto and a member of the  Legal Affairs committee in the last Assembly said the House team did not receive the proposed supplementary budget nor approve the expenditure.

The committee demanded a list of all law firms that were paid, pending cases, lawyers pre-qualified to work for the county, outstanding legal fees and a list of all officers who authenticated the payments.

Alumasi said  some of documents could not be provided as they touched on internal operations of the sector.

In the previous financial year, the county spent Sh1.1 billion in legal fees. Among the law firms that were paid included Mosyoki Mogaka & Company Advocates, which received Sh5.4 million and Momanyi Advocates which received Sh60 million.

Others were C W Ngala (Sh27 million), Kaceyo and Company (Sh5 million), while the county government legal department gobbled Sh36.6 million. 

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