SUSPICIOUS TRANSACTION

Nairobi MCAs query Sh87m legal fees

PAC says no proper evaluation was done to ascertain the payments

In Summary

•The Auditor General had also queried how Koceyo and Advocates agreed to be paid the amount, while the legal fee was Sh350 million

• Lawyer Lillian Maina told the committee the firm acted within agreed terms and that the payment was lawful

Lawyer Lillian Maina of Koceyo and Co. Advocates before Nairobi Assembly's PAC on March 21
Lawyer Lillian Maina of Koceyo and Co. Advocates before Nairobi Assembly's PAC on March 21
Image: MAUREEN KINYANJUI

 

A Nairobi lawyer is today expected before the county Public Accounts Committee to explain how Koceyo and Advocates agreed to be paid Sh87 million against the agreed legal fee of Sh350 million.

Titus Koceyo of Koceyo and Advocates was on Thursday last week summoned to explain how the firm and a former deputy director of legal department Erick Abwao, reached an agreement and payment was authorised within a day.

The Auditor General has also queried the payment deal.

The county PAC, which is interrogating the matter, noted that no proper evaluation was done to ascertain the payments.

The firm was paid the amount to represent the county in a Sh2.5 billion compensation case on the Standard Gauge Railway, in which residents, who were to be moved, demanded payment.

The money was paid during the governorship of Evans Kidero.

During the Thursday PAC session, Lillian Maina, a lawyer with the firm, said they  acted within agreed terms with the county and that the payments were  lawful.

But PAC members led by chairman Wilfred Odalo questioned how the firm and the county quickly reverted from the earlier agreed amount to fast track Sh87 million payment, which, according to them, contravenes Section 148 of Public Financial Management  Act.

The committee heard that the law firm in conjunction with the then deputy director of legal department Erick Abwao reached an agreement and payment was authorised within a day.

Odalo said the county and the law firm face serious breach of the PFM Act and ordered that lawyer Koceyo should appear before the committee today.

"In this case, one Abwao, a stranger in financial matters, negotiated with this firm and authorised expenditure," he said.

 
 

Odalo further alleged conspiracy between the firm and the county government.

Maina, however, said the law firm cannot be blamed for internal decisions made by the county regarding authorisation of payments.

She said the process was supervised by the then Finance executive Gregory Mwakanongo.

"I know the payment was done but I cannot confirm when. I had not joined the firm when it happened," Maina said.

Minority whip Peter Imwatok said the law firm did not take the case seriously hence, the delay in hearings.

"If the petition was under a certificate of urgency, why hasn't the case up to date been heard. Is it that the lawyers are not pushing it? Land issues, especially to do with compensation, are very serious," he said.

However, Maina said the delay was not from Koceyo Advocates.

"If the court has not set any dates, we cannot compel them to do so. We have to wait for them too. Our firm is up to the task. The case is tied with other factors which are beyond us," Maina said.

She was, however, declared a hostile witness by the committee.

"The tone and the manner in which you are answering questions is wanting. You can't teach the committee on how relevance the question is. It is disrespectful and not accepted by the committee," nominated MCA Silvia Kihoro said.

Koceyo, Mwakanongo and Abwao are set to appear before PAC on Wednesday.