Nairobi county’s Sh650m legal bill sparks corruption concerns

City Hall Building front side./Victor imboto
City Hall Building front side./Victor imboto

The Auditor General has put City Hall’s legal department on the spot over unauthorised payments of Sh592.4 million in the 2016-17 financial year.

In the period under review, the department’s legal costs amounted to Sh645.3 million against the approved budgetary allocation of Sh105 million.

Audit queries raised by Auditor General Edward Ouko show that the department paid 12 law firms Sh314.4 million.

The funds were spent outside the Integrated Financial Management Information System (IFMIS).

To bring closure on why the county paid the extra Sh592.4 million, the Nairobi County Assembly Public Accounts Committee (PAC) summoned acting Attorney David Moseko and acting Chief Officer for Finance Stephen Mutua on Thursday.

The committee, led by its chairman Wilfred Odalo, sought to know why there were irregular costs in the legal department that had been recurring for three financial years.

Last year, the department spent Sh480 million, more than the Sh100 million budgeted for.

The department was tasked to explain payments without documentary evidence.

”It appears that this is a channel through which some people drain off public funds,” Odalo said.

A total of Sh318.4 million paid to different lawyers lacked supporting documents.

Other payments which lacked supporting documents were Sh15.9 million paid to Koceyo and Company Advocates, Sh20.4 million to Kithi and Company Advocates and Sh20 million made to Tom Ojienda and Associates among others.

“ A lot of money has been allocated to the legal department but it is worrying how Nairobi is also losing a lot of money through this department,” said nominated MCA Silvia Museiya .

In his explanation, Moseko, said that the excess payments were a result of warrants of arrests and garnishee orders which were issued to the department by the court.

“We had no option but to pay or risk arrests. Legal costs are very hard to budget for because you do not know when they will come,” Moseko said.

He further said that Sh321.9 million was paid under court orders issued in form of warrant of arrests against county officers and garnishee orders against county bank accounts. Ojienda told the Star by phone on Sunday that he had not received the amount stated from the county.