THE Judicial Service Commission (JSC) Ahmednasir Abdullahi has accused the Chief Justice Willy Mutunga of wasting taxpayers’ money on “nonsensical” foreign trips. In an email obtained by the Star Ahmednasir accuses the CJ of “spending public money like you will do with your private money”.
And as prove of where the power in the Judiciary lies, Ahmednasir tells the CJ that as the chairman of the finance and administration sub-committee of the JSC he has the final say on finance issues at the judiciary.
The emails leave no doubt on where the power in the judiciary lies and casts Mutunga as a hapless leader of judiciary who is just a victim of powerful forces.
According to the emails, Mutunga had written to members of the JSC informing them of planned “benchmarking tour of the US and Canada” in late September and early October 2013.
However, in what amounts to a caustic reply to the CJ, Ahmednasir dismisses the planned trip, questioning its rationale and describing it is “total nonsense” and “waste of taxpayers’ money”.
The July 17, 2013 email is copied to all members of the JSC. “Also fundamentally have (sic) not approved these two visits (and don’t ask me whether I have these residual powers as the chair of the finance committee to cancel wasteful trips…I have!!! Arusha and Bosnia are the only trips on the cards,” Ahmednasir wrote to the CJ.
He goes on: “According to my books you spend public money like you will spend private money. Thus America and Canada are out. We have done enough benchmarking after all…benchmarking is not an endless trip to visit as many countries as we wish.”
The revelation are particularly damaging coming just days after the parliamentary Committee on the Budget was last week told that JSC commissioners have earned Sh128 million in sitting allowances over the last three years.
Gladys Shollei, who until her sacking last Friday was the Chief Registrar of the Judiciary, told the committee that JSC had scheduled so many meetings ostensibly to make money.
Shollei had told the Committee that Finance and Administration sub-committee of the JSC has perpetuated profligacy by approving monies from the Judiciary Fund even though it had no powers to do so.
In his reply Mutunga seeks to agree with Ahmednasir position, who he refers to as the “Grand Mullah”. “I am asking for a discussion on these benchmarking tours. We have not actually sat down and rationalised them. I now add my voice to that of the Grand Mullah (and sometimes the AG) that we think through proper criteria for justifying them.”
The revelations emerged even as the Justice and Legal Affairs committee of the national assembly meets this morning to consider a petition that seeks to disband the JSC.
Nicholas Riungu Mugambi who has filed the petition wants six members of the JSC removed from office for having contravened and violated the constitution.
A source at the committee, chaired by Ainabkoi Samuel Chepkonga, told the Star yesterday that the committee has invited Riungu to hear him, even though the “petition in itself is well crafted”.
Riungu wants commissioners Ahmednasir Abdullahi, Emily Ominde, Samuel Kobia, Christine Mango, Mohammed Warsame and Florence Mwangangi sacked for gross misconduct, incompetence.
Riungu states in the petition that the six have gotten actively involved in the financial and procurement day to day operations of the Judiciary, exercising veto powers regarding expenditure and abrogating themselves extensive oversight powers over fiscal management of the judiciary under the guise of being members of the finance committee.
The constitution designates the CRJ as the accounting officer of the judiciary and Riungu argues that by purporting to approve and disapprove expenditure of monies allocated to the judiciary has caused inordinate delay in the processing of salaries of judicial staff.
Article 173(1) (3) of the constitution designates the CRJ as the administrator of the judiciary fund and Riungu argues that the six “increased the vulnerability” of the judiciary when without authority approved expenditure.
The petitioner also wants the six commissioners removed from office on the ground that they “obstructed” justice by issuing directives to the Inspector general of police David Kimaiyo asking not to arrest some judiciary staff who were alleged to have stolen Sh80 million from the judiciary.
Four junior Judiciary members of staff, Ruth Wanjiku, Joab Ooko, Boru Mole and Benjamin Mutuku were later arrested and charged with conspiring to steal Sh80,013,302 from their employer on September 14.