Mombasa county must pay genuine pending bills

June 15, 2022 By: MUHURI

MUHURI rapid response officer Francis Auma and chairman Khelef Khalifa during a press conference on June 15, 2022, in Mombasa.

Lumatete Muchai & Co. Advocates has been offering legal representation to Mombasa County Government—and the defunct Mombasa Municipal Council—since 2008, and most recently in 2020.

The legal fees owed to the firm have accumulated to a staggering Sh126,621,590, as of June 3, 2022, according to a scrutinized transactional memo available to us.

Without success, the firm requested the county to clear the arrears. We have credible reports that some law firms—which we are not mentioning due to legal reasons—have been paid their dues at the expense of Lumatete.

On February 21, 2022, MUHURI wrote to the county secretary, Joab Tumbo, asking the devolved unit to clear the debt, but it failed. The county did not respond to our letter.

MUHURI suspected corrupt and unethical dealings between the county and some advocates and law firms who have been getting their pay without delays. We handled a similar case where county officials asked for kickbacks before paying a service provider.

Consequently, on February 28, 2022, MUHURI asked the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) to investigate the matter. We questioned the criteria the county used to pay some lawyers and law firms at the expense of Lumatete.

The county has not disputed the fees owed to Lumatete—but has failed to explain why it did not pay the firm.

Lumatete has been courageous enough to have allowed MUHURI to use his case to show a possible fraud within the system, which authorities must investigate and stop. His case is amongst dozens, if not hundreds.

There are numerous complaints against the county over pending bills amounting to millions of shillings. Service providers are not paid, yet the system shows their debts are cleared. Who is pocketing the money? Someone high up the hierarchy must be carrying out or abetting this scheme. If there are corrupt dealings, the buck stops with the county boss, Hassan Joho. He is equally liable and must face sanctions.

Considering this case, the announcement of Joho’s inclusion in the next government, under the Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Alliance—specifically to run the Land docket—does not inspire confidence.

Kenyans are aware of how the Ministry of Land is riddled with corruption. If Joho cannot tame corruption and unethical transactions in Mombasa, what assurance is his coalition giving that he will act differently when he gets the Land ministry? None.

MUHURI is demanding that the county must clear genuine pending bills, including those owed to Lumatete. Where there is a fraud, complicit staff must be held accountable.

Signed

Khelef Khalifa

Chairman, MUHURI Board of Directors

Read MUHURI letter to EACC, Mombasa County Government and Lumatete’s transactional memo.

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