•However, the committee may not have powers to arbitrarily fine people. Some lawyers said it can only recommend a fine, but the report must be debated by the entire House and either adopted or rejected.
•But Ngilu maintained that she complied with the notice sent out by the clerk and submitted the written responses to the Clerk office and to the Auditor.
Kitui Governor Charity Ngilu has seven days to pay a Sh500,000 fine or face sanctions for late submission of crucial county financial documents to the Senate.
Senate County Public Accounts and Investments Committee on Friday fined the county boss for ignoring its three letters to submit the documents early enough to facilitate her grilling over the audit queries raised by Auditor General.
“There is no way this committee can be ambushed with volumes of documents on a Friday morning. But we get the impression that probably this is the outcome of the plan you have planned all along,” committee chairman Moses Kajwang' said.
Kajwang' said that Ngilu and her finance officers ignored its letters written in March and July, requesting to send their written submission to the Clerk in advance to enable committee officials to scrutinise and internalise their contents before the grilling.
But Ngilu maintained that she complied with the notice sent out by the clerk and submitted the written responses to the Clerk office and to the Auditor.
“Mr Chairman, we submitted the documents and they were received by the office of the clerk. We have an acknowledgement letter though we did not carry. If given time, we will avail it,” Ngilu said.
The pleas, however, fell on deaf ears with the chairman maintaining that there was no way documents could have disappeared in Parliament if they were in deed delivered.
“She was talking about some evidence that was not before us. So there was no way we could have made a decision using imaginary document. If she substantiates, then we may probably consider that but as things stand, there is nothing for us to review,” Kajwang' told the Star after the meeting.
Kajwang' claims he invoked Section 19 (1) of the Parliamentary Powers and Privileges Act that provides that where a witness does not appear, or appears but fails to satisfy a committee of the House, that committee may impose a fine not exceeding Sh500,000.
“The fine should be paid to the clerk of the national assembly. Governor take charge that this is a personal charge to you the governor and not the county government of Kitui,” Kajwang ruled.
However, the committee may not have powers to arbitrarily fine people.
Some lawyers said it can only recommend a fine, but the report must be debated by the entire House and either adopted or rejected.
If it is adopted, then Ngilu would be compelled to pay, although she can decline, and the matter passed over to the Implementation committee. But if it is rejected, then nothing happens.
Ngilu becomes the third governor to be fined by the committee after Kwale Governor Salim Mvurya and his Nairobi counterpart were fined for dodging the committee sessions. Mvurya was fined Sh20,000 while Sonko paid Sh500,000 fine from his pocket.
Ngilu protested the fine, saying the committee should have applied if she proves unable to substitute that she submitted the said documents.
Ngilu said that according to the rules of natural justice, the committee ought to have given her an opportunity to provide the document as evidence before issuing such sanctions.
“Of course there are avenues for appealing thus decision. However, it is clear that this decision was already premeditated,” she said.
Committee vice chairperson and Meru senator Mithika Linturi termed the actions by Ngilu as not only contemptuous but an ambush to the senate which she knew very well was keen on ensuring that residents of Kitui county get justice.
He said: “it is clear that the governor has failed to satisfy this committee that the said documents were submitted to the clerk of the senate.
Ngilu was supposed to respond to respond to a number of audit queries including the expenditure of some Sh69.40 million that county spent on acquisition of 16 motor vehicles but could not provide supporting documents.
She was also supposed to explain how her administration accumulated pending bills amounting to Sh1.66 billion.