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Economy

Court suspends order to vet public procurement chiefs

Okiya Omtatah.
Okiya Omtatah. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

The Employment Court has temporarily suspended State House directive requiring public procurement and accounting officers to step aside from their offices in order to pave the way for fresh vetting.

Justice Onesmus Makau issued the order Wednesday after activist Okiya Omtatah sued the Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua, the Public Service Commission and the Attorney-General, arguing that the directive was irregular.

The heads of procurement and accounts units in ministries, departments, agencies and State corporations were on Monday instructed to step aside with immediate effect and hand over to their deputies.

They would be required to submit “personal information” including assets, liabilities and their record of service to the Head of Public Service by Friday to facilitate a fresh vetting process.

According to Mr Omtatah, the circular was subjectively created through an irregular, hurried, arbitrary and opaque process that did not involve public participation.

“Vetting does not require dismissal from office, unless it is a witch-hunt. In fact, dismissal from office is pre-emptive of any vetting,” said Mr Omtatah.

While issuing the temporary reprieve order, Justice Makau consequently suspended a circular dated June 4 which had that directive.

“Pending the inter-parties hearing and determination of this matter, the court is pleased to issue an interim order suspending the Circular Ref. No. OP/CAB.39/1A issued by Mr Kinyua until June 13 when the case will come up for interparty hearing,” the judge said.

This comes as dozens of officials and business people were detained for alleged theft of about Sh8 billion via the National Youth Service.

“The exercise is geared towards determining suitability to continue holding public office in the public trust, and promote confidence in the public service,” said Mr Kinyua in the suspended circular.

State House on Wednesday said the public servants who are stepping aside will still get their salaries but will only travel after they are cleared by Mr Kinyua.

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