Nairobi ward representatives have started a probe into a controversial Sh595 million legal fees paid to several law firms at City Hall.
The inquiry by the Nairobi County Assembly Public Accounts Committee follows an audit query by the Auditor General into the county executive’s legal fees expenditure.
According to the audit report, the county government made large payments as legal fees to various firms that offered legal services to the county.
However, the report said, the county executive did not provide documents such as nature of disputes, approvals for procurement of professional services records, records of services rendered and contract agreements for audit review.
The law firms include Munikah and Co Advocates, Ataka Kimori and Okoth Advocates, Abdullahi and Co Advocates, Musyoki Mogaka and Co Advocates, Koceyo and Co Advocates, Kwanga Mboya and Co Advocates, and Magoro and Co Advocates.
“We have invited the respective law firms to appear before the committee Wednesday next week to listen to their presentations,” said PAC chairperson and Mabatini MCA Wilfred Odalo.
Payment of legal fees to outsourced law firms by City Hall has always been an area of contention with MCAs often raising the red flag over the same.
The ward representatives have often taken City Hall to task for paying large sums of money into law firms despite the county government having not won any case in the court in recent years.
The county government has been accused by MCAs of prioritising payment of million in pending bills to lawyers at the expense of small scale traders who are owed even lesser amounts.
In January last year, the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission wrote to City Hall over an alleged payment of Sh500 million worth of legal fees for cases handled between 2013 and 2020.
Three months later, Minority Whip Peter Imwatok again wrote to the anti-graft agency and the DPP to investigate alleged “suspicious and skewed” payments to 13 law firms by City Hall.
The county’s legal department came under fire on several occasions for paying exorbitant legal representation fees to certain firms representing the county in different cases.
In 2018, the legal department was on the spot for spending Sh480 million outside the allocated budget of Sh100 million set aside as legal fees paid during the financial year ended June 30, 2016.
And in 2021, a Nairobi County Justice and Legal Affairs Committee report revealed that the Ann Kananu-led administration still outsources for legal services and currently owes law firms Sh6.97 billion in pending bills.
The report laid bare the names of over 100 firms that have been doing business with the county government.