Nairobi County Assembly Speaker Beatrice Elachi has gazetted the appointment of a new clerk.
This now sets the stage for the city assembly to have two clerks.
Speaker Elachi, in a gazette notice dated July 24, 2020, said the assembly’s service board had appointed Mr Edward Gichana as the new clerk to replace embattled Jacob Ngwele.
But Mr Ngwele insists that he is going nowhere as he is the legally recognised clerk of the county assembly.
“Pursuant to the provisions of section 18(1) of the County Assemblies Services Act, the Speaker and the chairperson of the Nairobi County Assembly Service Board notifies members of Nairobi County Assembly and the general public that Edward Ombwori Gichana has been appointed as the clerk of Nairobi County Assembly and secretary to the Nairobi County Assembly Service Board, with effect from July 23, 2020,” read the gazette notice.
Mr Gichana was sworn in by Ms Elachi on Friday as the new assembly clerk in a closely-guarded ceremony that was attended only by a single member of the board.
The choice of the former Nairobi County government head of internal audit as the new clerk has divided the assembly as well as the board, with some members opposing his appointment.
Nominated MCA Sylvia Museiya said that Mr Ngwele was reinstated as a result of a court order the same way Ms Elachi came back to the office.
“She does not respect court orders but we want to tell her that Ngwele is our clerk and he is going nowhere. He is here to stay,” she said.
Waithaka Ward MCA Anthony Kiragu echoed Ms Museiya’s sentiments, accusing the Speaker of kicking Mr Ngwele out of office despite an existing court order.
But Speaker Elachi maintains that Mr Ngwele is a “visitor” at the assembly as he has never been formally appointed as the assembly’s clerk since his name has never been tabled for approval.
This is despite the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) early this month, after seven months of investigation, affirming that Mr Ngwele’s appointment as the assembly’s clerk followed the due process of law.
But Speaker pointed out that the matter of the clerk of the assembly has been in court since October 2019 but recently, Justice Maureen Onyango stayed all orders of ELRC 194 of 2019 that recognised Ngwele as the clerk, giving the assembly 45 days to recruit a clerk following due procedures.
“Ngwele has come as a visitor. He is no longer the clerk and he has no orders to hold on to say he is the clerk of the assembly,” said Ms Elachi.
She added that Mr Gichana emerged top out of the 11 applicants shortlisted by the board for the position of the assembly’s clerk after a vacancy in the office was announced three months ago with an advertisement being made last month.
“We have followed the procedures and recruited a clerk. Edward Gichana was our number one with 79.1 points,” said Speaker Elachi.
But Mr Ngwele insists he is in office legally on the strength of a court order and clearance by the EACC.
He maintained that the Employment and Labour Relations Court barred anybody from acting as a clerk of the assembly in November 25, 2019 pending the determination of a case challenging his appointment.
“There has never been a vacancy in the office of the clerk as claimed by the Speaker. There was a consent order recorded by the courts that I resume my duties,” said Mr Ngwele.
Ms Elachi and Mr Ngwele do not see eye-to-eye. The two have been involved in a protracted war that began after a falling-out early 2018.