Law society CEO responds to push for her removal - Daily Nation

Law Society CEO Mercy Wambua dismisses corruption claims

Tuesday September 11 2018

Mercy Wambua

Law Society of Kenya Chief Executive Officer Mercy Wambua during a demonstration in Nairobi on February 15, 2018. PHOTO | EVANS HABIL| NATION MEDIA GROUP  

By WALTER MENYA
More by this Author

Law Society of Kenya boss Mercy Wambua has dismissed the corruption allegations raised against her and alleged malice in a push for her removal.

Ms Wambua said on Tuesday that the accusations, in a motion by private member Edward Waswa, are "a fabrication, false and malicious as well as defamatory".

“I have instructed my lawyer to take the necessary action,” she said.

CLARIFICATIONS

Mr Waswa has, however, stood by the motion for the Chief Executive Officer’s removal.

“These are legitimate and bona fide questions which require answers. It is incumbent upon the CEO to clarify facts at the general assembly. Any malice needs strict proof," he said.

In the motion that has gained traction with some society members, he accuses the CEO of abuse of office, favouritism, financial misconduct, incompetence and gross negligence.

He wants the Special General Meeting (SGM) to direct the council to conduct a forensic audit as this “will bring out more particulars".

With annexures to support the allegations, Mr Waswa, for instance, accuses Ms Wambua of ignoring advice by paying Sh5.8 million instead of Sh441,796.38 in the renewal of the staff medical scheme.

“On June 26, an invoice to the Society of Sh441,796.38 by Jubilee Insurance Company was received. Undermining the accountable and efficient manner in which funds of the society must be utilised, and contrary to the expectation of the membership, the CEO approved and facilitated the transfer of Sh5.8 million as the renewal of the staff medical cover for the period July 1 to June 30, 2019,” the motion states.

REASONABLE FIGURES

On this, Ms Wambua says that due process was followed and that the council approved the renewal of the cover.

“Under its terms and conditions of employment, the LSK is obligated to provide medical cover for its employees. Those covered include the principal (employee), the spouse and their children. These benefits have been implemented for several years now,” she noted.

The CEO further said the society has 36 employees but that 117 beneficiaries are covered when spouses and children are included.

“The premiums for the cover were invoiced in two batches. For the first batch of 109 beneficiaries, the total amount paid was Sh5.8 million. For the second batch of eight employees (indicated in the invoice as additional staff) dated June 26, the amount was Sh441,796.38. The total premium amount paid for 117 staff members was Sh6.3 million,” she said.

“Clearly, any person who has handled group medical covers knows that the premiums herein are reasonable if not low, considering the benefits (outpatient, inpatient, maternity, dental among other benefits) as well as the number of beneficiaries insured."

COUNCIL DIRECTIONS

Regarding accusations of irregular procurement of 46 fire extinguishers for the Society’s offices, Ms Wambua said she only implemented the council's resolutions.

“Fire and safety equipment are not installed based on the number of employees. There are various parameters that are guided by the law in compliance with the Occupational Safety and Health Act," she said.

"Various equipment were purchased and installed according to a council resolution based on fire safety, occupational safety and health, and risk assessment audits undertaken in 2017. Employees have a right to work in a secure and safe environment. It is simply a blatant falsehood that fire extinguishers were purchased at the cost of Sh978,655. The cost of fire extinguishers is Sh215,000."

According to Ms Wambua, the fire extinguishers and other equipment have been installed in three different sites, housing more than 40 employees. These are the LSK Secretariat's main office, the project office and the South C archive (container).

The chief executive also denied subjecting the LSK to public ridicule as alleged in Mr Waswa’s motion.

“There are no particulars provided for that allegation and therefore there is nothing to respond to. The CEO works under the directions of the council which is mandated to implement the functions of the Law Society of Kenya."

LOST GLORY

The sponsor of the motion, however, maintains that “it is a matter of public notoriety that the LSK has lost its glory".

Mr Waswa adds that members have complained lately about how non-responsive and inactive the society has become, and that "activist Okiyah Omtatah is the new LSK”.

Mr Waswa’s motion is one of the several that private members intend to table on Saturday when the LSK holds its SGM on September 15.

The SGM was called to deal with three agenda items - consideration of the draft LSK (General) Regulations, 2018 for approval; consideration of the LSK International Arbitration Centre Legal Audit Report for adoption; and consideration of two motions received from the LSK Development and Investment Committee.

The latter motions are on re-development and construction of a modern office block at the LSK headquarters on a Gitanga Road plot, as well a bringing the International Arbitration Centre project to a closure.

So far, two ouster motions have been filed - one seeking the removal of the CEO and another against society president Allen Gichuhi and council member Roseline Odede.