ASSEMBLY STRIFE

Elachi or Ngwele: Who gets the last laugh?

Power battle persists as Ngwele returns to the assembly as the clerk while speaker insists he is a just a visitor

In Summary

• Report tabled and approved Edward Gichana as the new clerk of the assembly.

• Ngwele returns after recieving authorisation and documents  from the EACC and CBK.

Nairobi County Assembly Clerk Jacob Ngwele addressing the media on June 23.
I'VE GOT PROOF: Nairobi County Assembly Clerk Jacob Ngwele addressing the media on June 23.
Image: EZEKIEL AMING'A

Power wrangles at the Nairobi County Assembly deepened on Thursday as Clerk Jacob Ngwele returned to the office after nine months.

He arrived as a report was tabled and adopted, virtually, approving Edward Gichana as the new clerk of the assembly.

Jacob Ngwele arrived at 9am with a section of ODM lawmakers who were later joined by their Jubilee counterparts.

Then a section of assembly staff were selectively ordered to exit the building, with orders coming from above.

 

A section of assembly staff leave the buding on June 23.
EXIT: A section of assembly staff leave the buding on June 23.
Image: EZEKIEL AMING'A
Police officers enter the Nairobi Assembly building on June 23.
COPS ENTER: Police officers enter the Nairobi Assembly building on June 23.
Image: EZEKIEL AMINGA

However, sergeants-at-arms and a few policemen remained.

Seated outside former Charlie’s Bistro restaurant opposite the assembly building, some worried who were kicked out departed, while some waited for any instructions.

On Tuesday, Speaker Elachi had announced the assembly will be closed, virtual meetings will be held and staff present minimised.

Both Ngwele and Elachi addressed separate press conferences.

Nairobi County Assembly Speaker Beatrice Elachi on January 7.
SPEAKER: Nairobi County Assembly Speaker Beatrice Elachi on January 7.
Image: EZEKIEL AMING'A

Speaker Elachi insisted Ngwele has never been formally appointed as the clerk to the assembly since 2013 as his name was never tabled in the assembly for approval.

Ngwele has come as a visitor. He is no longer the clerk and he has no orders to hold to say he is the clerk of the assembly.
Speaker Beatrice Elachi

However, the EACC after investigations concluded the County Assembly Board had on June 10, 2014, resolved to absorb and confirm Ngwele as the clerk.

Last year in November the assembly had adopted a report by an ad hoc committee that resolved to revoke Ngwele’s name as the clerk.

“Ngwele has come as a visitor. He is no longer the clerk and he has no orders to hold to say he is the clerk of the assembly. We are in court. CBK agreed with us and said by the time we finalise recruiting the clerk we need to go back to court to tell them who is our clerk,” Elachi said.

She said the assembly's board had announced the vacancy of the clerk's office, an advertisement was made last month and 11 people were interviewed.

They included Ibrahim Ali, Joseph Lemakat, Ngige Gitau, Nominated MCA Mbugua Kabiro and Evans Makor.

Gichana emerged the winner. He had been head of internal audit and risk management in the county government.

"We have followed the procedures and recruited a clerk. ... Edward Gichana got 79.1 points, followed by Gad Otieno Awuonda with 69.63 and Sammy Kiptoo who got 66 points. Three never appeared but were shortlisted,” Elachi explained.

The former senator said some MCAs have been threatening her if she fails to pick their candidate, saying they they would bring back Ngwele to the assembly.

“Let us respect what the court has said. Let us stop this intimidation because we are not taking the person they want,” she said.

Elachi added that the matter of the clerk of the assembly has been in the corridors of powers since last year October ..

However, justice Maureen Onyango stayed all orders of ELRC 194 of 2019 that recognised Ngwele as the clerk, giving the assembly 45 days to recruit a clerk following due procedures.

Nairobi County Assembly Speaker Beatrice Elachi and Clerk Jacob Ngwele at a meeting in City Hall in 2018.
HAPPIER DAYS: Nairobi County Assembly Speaker Beatrice Elachi and Clerk Jacob Ngwele at a meeting in City Hall in 2018.
Image: COURTESY

Only authorized signatory

Defending his return to the assembly, Ngwele said he had received letters from both the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission and the Central Bank of Kenya confirming his mandate as the authorised signatory of the assembly bank accounts.

“After being cleared by the EACC and a letter from CBK confirming my mandates, the MCAs today called me as their servant to serve them. I have come here today to serve the members since I am the CEO and I want to make sure that there is a continuation of service delivery at the assembly,” he said.

Ngwele said Elachi had ignored numerous court orders directing that he should be allowed to access his office.

“There has never been a vacancy in the office of the clerk as claimed by the speaker. There was a consent order recorded by the courts that I resume my duties. The case is still in court and despite the numerous court orders to the assemb, I have continued to be denied access into my office which resulted in a lot of problems and in the running of the assembly,” he added.

Ngwele called upon the Inspector General to ensure that the police provide him with unhindered protection while he carries out his duties.

“I have not been able to get that protection from the police and that is why you see I have been accompanied by members here,” he said.

“But we have gone ahead and given the police all the court orders on this issue. We are not here to fight and assured them that the matter is still in court and [it has]  not decided otherwise on matters touching on my employment,” Ngwele said.

(Edited by V. Graham)