Counties

City Hall lawyers to wait longer for Sh1.5bn fees

City-hall

An aerial view of Nairobi City Hall. FILE PHOTO | NMG

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Summary

  • City Hall has suffered a setback in its bid to be allocated Sh1.5 billion towards payment of controversial legal fees under probe by the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC).
  • The Nairobi County Assembly has shot down a request by the Justice and Legal affairs department to be allocated the sum to clear legal costs incurred by the County Executive over the years.

City Hall has suffered a setback in its bid to be allocated Sh1.5 billion towards payment of controversial legal fees under probe by the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC).

The Nairobi County Assembly has shot down a request by the Justice and Legal affairs department to be allocated the sum to clear legal costs incurred by the County Executive over the years.

The department had asked for an additional Sh500 million for payment of decretal sums and legal costs incurred by the county government over the years.

They had also requested for Sh1 billion for settling the county’s legal fee and pending bills contained in the Auditor General’s report.

However, the requests for the additional funding was not granted with the assembly’s Budget and Appropriations committee and was not included as part of the county’s supplementary budget approved by MCAs last week.

The committee chairperson Robert Mbatia said the committee chose to retain the legal department’s allocation of Sh712.2 million as was in the budget for the financial year ending June 30, 2021 and not grant the request for additional funding due to lack of funds.

Nonetheless, he explained that going forward the assembly is pushing to have every department handle its own legal fees rather than by the county attorney’s office.

He observed that county government has been losing cases because individual sectors do not give information to the legal department for the lawyers as they do not answer to questions thereof from the assembly.

“We agreed that moving into the next financial year, we will agree that every department takes care of its decretal sums and legal costs,” said Mr Mbatia.

“Creating a policy where individual sectors will be required to take care of their decretal sums will see the county government significantly cut down on its legal expenditure,” he added.

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 the county attorney to task over payment of millions to law firms despite the county government having not won any case in the court in the recent past.

Recently, the county government also came under attack from the MCAs who accused the executive of prioritising payment of million in pending bills to lawyers at the expense of small scale traders who are owed even lesser amounts.



Nevertheless, the setback comes at a time when the EACC is continuing with investigations into at least 25 law firms that did business with City hall between 2013 and 2020.

In a letter dated January 21, 2021, the anti-graft agency asked Nairobi County Secretary to furnish the Commission with specific case files handled by the law firms between 2013 and 2020, including details of the cases, letters of instructions and contract agreements.

This is in addition to all payment vouchers and cheque counterfoils and lists of pre-qualified law firms for period under focus as well as minutes approving the list of pre-qualified law firms and any other documents relevant to the investigations.

Some of the firms under investigation include Irungu Kang'ata and Co Advocates, Osundwa and Co Advocates, Kwanga Mboya and Co Advocates, Kithi and Co Advocates, Wanjiku Maina and Co Advocates, E Onyango and Co Advocates and JO Magolo and Co Advocates.

The other firms include Ario Advocates, Maskam (Asanyo) , EN Omoti and Co Advocates , Ogeto Ottachi and Co Advocates, Musyoka Mogaka and Co Advocates, Masire Mogusu and Co Advocates, Maanzo and Co Advocates.

The list also includes Koceyo and Co Advocates, RM Wafula and Co Advocates, Mbaluka and Co Advocates, Njenga Maina and Co Advocates, Kandie Murtai and Co Advocates, Sirma and Co Advocates, Arati and Co Advocates, CM Mitema and Co Advocates, Munyasia and Co Advocates and Ongecha Ongicho and Co Advocates.