A cartel surrounding Kisumu governor Anyang’ Nyong’o now wants to fleece the county government over Sh150 million under the guise of purchasing a residential house for the county boss.
The multimillion residence belonging to controversial business tycoon Ketan Somaia’s family is located at the junction of Ringroad and Jomo Kenyatta Avenue and overlooking Lake Victoria and sharing a fence with Kenya Wildlife Service-owned Impala Park.
“The governor called a well known valuer in Kisumu who valued the house at over Sh90 million, a figure the owners have declined saying they will not take anything below Sh200 million.
The cartel led by finance minister Nerry Achar, Victor Nyagaya, Eric Orangi and First Lady Dorothy Nyong’o now want the county government to fork out an upward of Sh300 million with a view of pocketing the surplus.
A member of the Somaia family lamented that throughout their lives they have never seen such a transaction where everybody seems to be the boss and just talk and talk and talk about monies to be shared.
“They approached us and told us that we sell the house to the county government, a proposal we agreed to subject to further negotiations, but at the rate things are going as a family we might think otherwise,” he added.
A member of the cartel who has twice unsuccessfully contested a parliamentary seat is said to be pushing the sellers of the house to write almost four agreements as he claims that Governor Nyong’o’s “share” should be factored in hence the Sh350 million offer against the Somaia family’s insistence that the least they could take home is Sh200 million without being seen to be part of the conspiracy to fleece the county.
In a separate development that is likely to brew disharmony, county attorney James Obondi has insisted that lawyers who represent the establishment in court will be paid their dues regardless of the numerous cases they lose as the county has a contract with them which clearly stipulates that they have to be paid for any legal services they render to the county.
The seemingly excited young advocate said before the governor that at no time will the county refuse to pay the advocates regardless of their performance.
“Lawyers are paid for going to court to argue, winning or not winning cannot influence their remuneration,” said Obondi.
Obondi was at pains to answer questions fielded by journalists during a breakfast meeting hosted by the governor and also attended by county executive committee members.
It took Nyong’o’s intervention when Obondi almost lost his head and implored on him to calm down.
Obondi maintained that lawyers are hired and paid for services rendered and not for winning cases.
Finance executive Nery Achar said they will assess the performance of lawyers in the next six months in order to see if they are adding value.
Journalists had raised concern over the high number of cases the county government has been losing.
This came in the wake of payments seen to be “questionable and preferential” in favour of three local advocates who are said to be on a spending spree in the lakeside city.
Incidentally, some advocates who have been previously contracted by the county government or the defunct local authorities have been camping at the Prosperity House.
“Over Sh200million was recently paid to an advocate for services rendered by a client to the now defunct Kisumu municipality,” said an advocate who has been chasing his dues in futility.
One of the advocates who was recently paid is usually seen in social places displaying crisp bank notes in a briefcase.
One of the many cases that the court has dismissed was the appeal by the governor seeking to overturn a High Court decision reinstating sacked chief officers.
In the judgment read by Justice Hannah Okwengu, the judges upheld the earlier decision saying Governor Nyong’o had no unilateral powers to sack the chief officers.
Justice Okwengu said unlike CEC members, contract of employment of a chief officer is not tied to the term of office of a governor in office during the employment period.
She said the governor ought to have consulted the county public service board and the county assembly before sending the officers on compulsory leave and later sacking them.
The judge further noted that it is the PSB’s role to identify suitable candidates through competitive sourcing before forwarding the names to the governor.
The governor then identifies nominees subject to board’s recommendations, she said.
It is recalled that the Employment and Labour Relations Court in Kisumu had barred the county government from disbanding the public service board.
This was after the six board members filed a petition before the court seeking to bar the county legislature and the executive from carrying out any action against the board.
The embattled board members were appointed by former Governor Jack Ranguma and had served more than four years.
The ruling came few days after the county assembly approved a motion seeking to send away the board for gross misconduct.