Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho has sought the dismissal of a petition in which the petitioners want the county inspectorate department scrapped and have challenged revenue collection from the municipal courts.
The governor has termed the petition by three residents, Mr Patrick Kabundu, Mr Mutuma Caleb Mwiti and Mr Chichi Kimani unsubstantiated, baseless and lacking in evidence and which should be expunged from court records.
In documents filed before Mombasa Resident Judge Erick Ogola, the Joho administration denied channelling revenue collected from the county courts to personal accounts as alleged by the petitioners.
“All revenue collected by the county from the courts is managed in strict adherence to the provisions of law and finally ends up in the County Revenue Fund Account held at the Central Bank of Kenya,” Mr Joho said through lawyer Paul Buti.
The petitioners had told the court that the revenue was channelled to personal M-Pesa accounts linked to the administration.
But the county boss said no revenue is utilized at the source, arguing that the allegations are made either in bad taste or due to failure to understand collection, handling and banking of the revenue.
The administration further denied that it has been collecting revenue illegally and that it has failed to remit the same to the consolidated fund. “The complaint by the petitioners that public funds are now being channelled to some peoples’ pockets is casually made, lacks evidence, as it also does not mention the particular people pocketing the revenue,” said Mr Buti.
He added: “The respondents further deny that the county inspectorate is used to instil fear on those who oppose the governor. The allegations that the respondents or their agents are trespassing upon or interfering with the rights of land owners and invading public institutions are lacking in evidence,” he said.
The lawyer said the order being sought, that municipal courts be closed and the power of the county askaris to conduct prosecutions, be declared unconstitutional are matters that have been previously determined by the Court of Appeal and therefore cannot be discussed by the same parties again.
The petitioners want the inspectorate department declared unconstitutional since the role the askaris play are similar to those being discharged by the police.
They sought to have the 2016 Mombasa County Inspectorate Bill - that created the department - suspended, terming it unlawful. The petitioners say through the bill, the county governments have created an enforcement body similar to the National Police Service as they have powers to arrest and detain people.
“The unconstitutional bill has caused injustices to the citizens as it has enabled county askaris to prosecute people with the aim to extort money, harass innocent residents and raise illegal revenue,” they said in their petition.
They argued that the county askaris are using their illegally obtained powers to target small-scale traders particularly the youth, women and other vulnerable groups.
Since the bill came into force in 2016, they told the court, Mr Joho has continued to collect and receive revenue illegally from prosecutions conducted by municipal courts without remitting it to the consolidated funds
In their petition, they said the governor and the askaris are using the criminal justice system as a pawn in personal feuds. They urged the court and the Director of Public Prosecutions to intervene and prevent its process from being manipulated for ulterior motives.
Mr Joho is listed as the second respondent while the county government, county public service board and clerk of the county assembly are the first, third and fourth respondents respectively.
Justice Ogola directed the parties to file responses and serve within 14 days.
The matter will be heard on November 13.