CJ Koome in Standoff With Parliament After Blocking Audit

CJ-Elect Martha Koome appears before MPs at Parliament on Wednesday, May 19, 2021

Chief Justice Martha Koome is at the center of a fresh standoff with Parliament concerning MPs' powers to audit monies allocated to the Judiciary. 

Koome, who recently assumed office, directed staff in the judiciary not to answer audit queries - much to the chagrin of Parliament. 

The Chief Justice has since blocked the Chief Registrar in Judiciary Ann Amadi from appearing before the National Assembly's Parliamentary Accounts Committee (PAC) to explain why the post of finance director has remained vacant for seven years.

PAC wants Speaker Justin Justin Muturi to rules whether it can proceed with its work concerning audit queries on judiciary books of accounts for the year 2018/2019.

Justin Muturi
National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi

There are two audit queries namely; irregular acting appointments and irregular long-acting appointments.

PAC Chairman Opiyo Wandayi wrote to Justin Muturi seeking guidance on the judiciary’s failure to respond to these audit queries. These queries were raised in paragraphs 1644 and 1651 of the auditor general's report for the 2018/2019 financial year.

“The committee seeks your ruling on whether or not there are persons that are exempt from the application of the provisions of Article 125 (1) and (2) of the Constitution of Kenya,” Opiyo Wandayi wrote.

National Assembly Clerk Michael Sialai on July 14, 2021 appeared before the PAC and stated that the speaker Muturi would soon advise on CJ Koome and the letters.

“I confirm that the Speaker has received your letter and that from CJ Koome. The Speaker will be responding to those letters and issues will be clarified soon,” He told PAC.

Ten judicial officers holding senior posts ranging from directors to principal officers have been in office for overtime of between 16 to 40 months.

The CJ sent a letter to the speaker on Jul 13, 2021stating that the summons will undermine the independence of the Judiciary.

The PAC also demands information on why two interviews conducted on September 17, 2017 and November 5, 2019 did not lead to appointments.

The parliamentarians are demanding the reveal of the score sheets of these two particular interviews held on these dates.

An ongoing session in parliament
An ongoing session in parliament