Economy

Court blocks renewal of EPRA boss tenure

pavel

Mr Pavel Oimeke. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Summary

  • A judge Tuesday blocked the renewal or extension of the term of Pavel Oimeke as director-general at the Energy Petroleum & Regulatory Authority (EPRA), throwing the agency into uncertainty.
  • Justice Hellen Wasilwa temporarily stopped the EPRA board and the Energy and that of Petroleum and Mining ministers from deliberating the renewal of Mr Oimeke’s tenure, which ended on August 1.

A judge Tuesday blocked the renewal or extension of the term of Pavel Oimeke as director-general at the Energy Petroleum & Regulatory Authority (EPRA), throwing the agency into uncertainty.

Justice Hellen Wasilwa temporarily stopped the EPRA board and the Energy and that of Petroleum and Mining ministers from deliberating the renewal of Mr Oimeke’s tenure, which ended on August 1.

Mr Oimeke, who has been in office since 2017, is eligible for a second term but Emmanuel Wanjala rushed to court, arguing that the renewal should not be automatic but it should be subject to competitive and procedural requirements.

“It is imperative that pending the hearing and determination of this application and the petition, the respondents be restrained from deliberating, extending and or renewing the contract of the first respondent,” said Justice Wasilwa.

Until last Friday, top Energy ministry officials remained guarded on the fate of Mr Oimeke.

Mr Wanjala, through lawyer Henry Kurauka, said in the petition that EPRA has witnessed massive losses be it due to spillages, installation of faulty meters, corruption, court cases against the authority by former employees — who were dismissed for pointing out wrongdoings or mismanagement of resources and abuse of office among others. He said, as a result, the taxpayer has lost billions of shillings, which cannot be recovered and should his tenure be extended.

Mr Wanjala added that the losses are likely to increase, crippling the authority and the sector further burdening a weakened taxpayer.

“The manner in which he runs and conducts business as the director-general of the authority does not only raise ethical questions but also contravenes provisions of the constitution and statutory provisions regulating public institutions and the conduct of public servants,” he said in an affidavit.

Mr Wanjala also accused Mr Oimeke of misusing public funds through irregular earnings, which is a breach of law.

He has enjoined Ethics and Ant-Corruption Commission (EACC) to with a view of compelling the agency to investigate the claims. Yesterday, Justice Wasilwa asked the EACC to file a response to the suit within seven days.

Mr Wanjala’s lawyer told the court that Mr Oimeke must be a member of a relevant professional body as clearly stipulated under section 13(3)(e) of the Energy Act and he believes that he does not meet this requirement.

Justice Wasilwa directed EPRA and other respondents to file their replies within seven days and set the hearing for October 1.