Speaker stays put as MCAs vow to ensure ousted officers are prosecuted

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Kakamega County Assembly MCAs protest at the Assembly premises after ejecting Speaker Morris Buluma and Clerk Mr Patrick Kamwesa over embezzlement of funds – Photo/Gabriel Juma/County Guardian News

 

By Boscow Ambundo and Gabriel Juma

Embattled Kakamega County Assembly Speaker Morris Buluma has said he is in office to stay and that his impeachment was illegal.

His position was taken by Sango Ward MCA Kennedy Kiliwake who was voted in an acting capacity.

The MCAs also ousted County Assembly clerk Patrick Kamwessar and Finance Director Laban Atemba accusing them of embezzling funds.

In defending his position, Mr Buluma said the procedure used by the MCAs to impeach him is not provided for in the County Government Act.

Buluma said he was still in office legally and that he will not succumb to any form of intimidation from the MCAs who are being used by outside forces to scuttle his career.

“What happened was not impeachment; it was hooliganism which should not be coming from elected leaders. Their work is oversight and legislation but being used by outside forces to break the law,” said Buluma.

He added “The procedure requires that you raise signatures and raise the matter to the floor of the house so that it can be debated on. You cannot lock my office and claim you have impeached me through the back door,”

The embattled speaker said he was not given an opportunity to respond to the allegations raised by the MCAs at the floor of the house, saying he was continue discharging his duties.

He defended himself saying that corruption and embezzlement of funds allegations were farfetched and that he is innocent. “I am as white as snow, am not the chief accounting officer at the assembly and you cannot say I have stolen any money,”

But the MCAs have vowed that they will not allow him back to office since they have a substantive speaker who will be conducting the house business.

Shieywe ward Joab Mwamuto and a member of the Public Accounts and Investment Committee (PAIC) said the speaker was not being genuine by saying that he is innocent.

Mr Mwamuto said at least Sh150million has been embezzled and cannot be accounted for. “The Speaker is the CEO of the assembly and he must take full responsibility for the loss of money including the assembly clerk Mr Kamwessar and the finance director Mr Atemba.

He said they have invited the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Noordin Haji and sleuths from the Ethics anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) to come and probe the three officers who were removed from office on Tuesday (yesterday).

Mr Mwamuto said they had also requested the speaker not to preside over the house business when the Public Accounts and Investment Committee (PAIC) report where he is adversely mentioned but overruled them.

“The Speaker has been running the assembly as if this is his personal business. We were elected to provide oversight of the tax payer’s money and not to bend low to the executive,” said Mwamuto.

According to PAIC Vice Chairman and Isukha South MCA Farouk Machanje, Mr Buluma asked the committee to expunge his name from the report, a matter they rejected unanimously.

“The speaker was allocated Sh1.19 million to buy furniture for his residential house and there is no documentation that this furniture was bought. Only a payment voucher of Sh190, 370 was availed to us and this is not proof of payment,” said Mr Machanje.

He said the assembly spent Sh2.5million on unspecified works and construction of a VIP lounge but it was non-existent and that there is no proof that such expenditure was undertaken.

“You cannot buy a wall cloak and portraits at a cost of Sh20, 000 each totaling to Sh2.12millon. A piece of a toilet paper cannot cost Sh402. Normal price is between Sh15 and Sh20. This wastage of public funds is what we are against,” said Machanje.

Bunyala East MCA Mr Rodgers Nato and PAIC chair said a total of Sh17million was spent to construct a VIP toilet for the members but what is on the ground is not a true reflection of the money spent.

Mr Nato said the toilet has no tapped water and that the taps are dry. “For the last four months, the latrines don’t have tissue papers and soap and yet the assembly is given Sh73million every month to run her affairs,”

He said a total of Sh5.7million was squandered during the renovation of assembly’s restaurant (formerly a store), saying they only tiled it. “You cannot tiled a room measuring 6 by 4 metres and claim to have spent Sh5.7million,”

Nato said they will stand their ground until such a time the affected officers will be cleared by the relevant offices.

Ends