Water CS Taken To Court For Protecting Athi Water Development Agency CEO’s Illegal Stay In Office
Cabinet Secretary for Water Sanitation and Irrigation Alice Wahome finds herself in trouble following a petition filed in court over the state of affairs at the Athi Water Development Agency.
According to the petition filed in a Nairobi High Court by Caroline Wambui Mwangi, the CS is being accused of obstructing ongoing corruption investigations at the State agency, which falls under CS Wahome’s docket.
Ms Mwangi through Robinson Maina Law Firm also wants the court to rule over the legality of the continued stay in office of Athi Water Development Agency Chief Executive Michael Thuita following the lapse of his second three-year term.
“Having served as the Chief Executive Officer since June 6, 2017, the first respondent (Thuita) has to date served for a cumulative tenure of six years, two months, and still counting, thus grossly violating the law on the tenure of office,” she says in court documents.
Ms Mwangi seeks a court order to compel Mr Thuita to vacate office, citing the ongoing investigations by the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) into his alleged involvement in procurement irregularities related to several water projects.
Earlier this year, EACC CEO Twalib Mbarak wrote to CS Wahome asking her to suspend Mr Thuita.
Mbarak said in the letter dated May 24 that the Commission is investigating procurement irregularities in the award of tender in the construction of Ruiru-II, Karimenu and Kitui Matuu Water Projects undertaken by the agency in which Thuita has been adversely mentioned.
“The CEO, being the accounting officer of the agency was involved in the implementation of these three projects. Therefore, there is a likelihood that his being in the office will interfere with the smooth provision of documents and persons who may be called upon as witnesses,” the EACC boss said.
Mbarak said the request is in line with provisions of the Leadership and Integrity Act which provides for the suspension of State or public officers mentioned in alleged graft.
“Regulation 25(2) of the Leadership and Integrity Act provides that suspension shall apply where the officer is likely to conceal, alter, destroy, remove records, documents or evidence,” the EACC boss stated.
He said the Act also provides for the suspension to ensure the officer in question does not intimidate, threaten or otherwise interfere with witnesses or the investigations in any manner.
25(3) of the Act, a suspended State or public officer shall be placed on half pay pending conclusion of investigations.
“To this end, based on the reasons stated, it is advised that you consider invoking the above-cited provisions and take administrative action against the CEO to pave the way for investigations,” he told CS Wahome.
The petitioner claims Mr Thuita’s extended stay in office is an attempt to hinder the ongoing probe, manipulate evidence, and silence potential witnesses.
Ms Mwangi argues that the CEO’s actions are
“not only contrary to the rule of law but also detrimental to the public interest and the agency’s accountability.”
“It is totally unlawful for Thuita to illegitimately and mischievously continue exercising the mandate vested in the office of the Chief Executive Officer of the agency in a manner that terribly exposes the public to grave legal liabilities,” she argues.
In her affidavit, Ms Mwangi alleges that the EACC had recommended the suspension of Mr Thuita during the course of its investigation, a recommendation that was ignored by CS Wahome.