Kakamega councillors kick out officers, mayor
THERE was tension at the Kakamega town hall yesterday after councillors kicked out chief officers and mayor over alleged misuse of funds. Eleven out of the 13 councillors at the council passed a resolution to suspend town clerk Newton Mukabue, treasurer Joseph Amenya and mayor Matia Sichere over the alleged payments of close to Sh13 million during a special full council meeting.
The councillors had earlier roughed up the treasurer and other council workers trying to force them to attend the meeting in vain. Amenya was treated at a local hospital of neck injuries. Operations at the council came to a stand still as the enraged councillors moved between the chambers and the treasurer's office. The mayor who was attending a meeting at Masinde Muliro university was informed of the activities at town hall rushed to the council and went to the parlour where he was joined by 10 police officers to take guard for fear the situation could degenerate into a confrontation.
The meeting chaired by deputy mayor Wellington Khakabo picked town engineer Maurice Marango, deputy treasurer Catherine Naliaka to act the positions of clerk and treasurer respectively. However, town clerk, treasurer and engineer's positions are public service commission appointments and cannot be done by the council.
The councillors tabled copies of cheques they claimed they were used to pay a lawyer Sh1, 313, 000 legal fees for unspecified services between January 2011 and June this year. They also showed the press copies of cheques for payment of Sh 2, 375, 000 to a firm for unspecified consultancy services. They also claimed that the council had paid Sh 2 million for the purchase of land for construction of a school whereas the land owner had receive nothing.The councillors also claimed that Sh 8 million set a side for renovation of the stadium could not be accounted for.
But Mukabue defended the payments saying that the owner of the land was not paid because the land had not been valued at the time of the transaction. He however did not explain the whereabouts of the money the council was indicated to have already paid. He said that the lawyer is the council's duly appointed legal officer and money received by him was part of his legal services fees. “In fact the council owes the lawyer even more money which we need to pay, let these people stop peddling rumours,” he said.
The councillors who ousted the mayor and chief officers were yesterday afternoon set to seek the changing of signatories to the council accounts in different banks in the town. Yesterday, the treasurer said termed claims by the councillors unfortunate saying the council was surviving on debts because of the poor financial base. He showed the press a letter approving a request by the council to borrow Sh 50 million to help stabilize its operations.
The mayor dismissed the move by councillors to oust him as illegal saying the councillors should have followed due process to hve their grievances addressed. “To me nothing has happened. They cannot purport to replace me, the clerk or even treasure because their positions are public service commission appointments and not for the council,” said Sichere. Sichere said that claims by the councillors should be investigated and any wrongdoing by any council officers punished if found. “Everybody should be prepared to carry his own cross. I want this matter investigated.