By Kennedy Lumwamu
A judicial officer has sued his employer and welfare organisation for impropriety over members’ funds.
John Ogutu Kasango, who is based at the High Court registry in Eldoret, says in court papers that since 2013 when the Kenya Judicial Staff Association (KJSA) was formed and registered, the body’s National Executive Council has never held an annual general meeting or even advertised for the same.
He says the association’s accounts have never been audited and that the more than 4,000 members who contribute Sh200 each every month have been left in the dark over the association’s activities. He terms this as evidence that the association’s executive members are misappropriating members’ funds, noting that the association has never published any audited financial report.
The petition which has been filed in Eldoret under a certificate of urgency wants the Judicial Service Commission, which is the second respondent in the petition, stopped from deducting money from the employees who are also members of the association.
Kasango also wants the court to order an audit of KJSA’s financial statements of account No 1156579317 at the Kenya Commercial Bank from the year 2013 to date.
He further seeks orders to have the accounts frozen and cost of the case passed on to the KJSA executive officials. He says that the council members are officials of the association, whose core mandate is well established in the constitution – members and the board must conduct themselves with independence and professionalism, integrity, accountability, equity and equality.
Kasango alleges that while the officials were tasked with ensuring proper functioning of the association by coming up with the budget of the organisation, consider business that may arise appoint auditors to scrutinise how the finances of the organisation have been utilised and provide a report to members, the officials have not performed their work in accordance with the values of the association and constitution of Kenya, to the detriment of the association.
He said the Judicial Service Commission continues deduct monthly subscriptions of Sh200 from members and yet the National Executive Council cannot explain and show how the funds have been utilised.
In his affidavit, Kasango notes that members stand to suffer substantial loss and damage if the orders sought are not granted, and accuses the officials of breaching the values of good governance, integrity, transparency accountability and equality.
He says a failure by the officials to conduct a financial audit was a well-choreographed method by the officials to misuse and plunder the association funds to unjustly enrich themselves at the expense of members. He further submits that the officials have colossal powers when it comes to dispute resolution/arbitration which gives them a window to abuse such power to their own benefit and to the detriment of members, as it breaches the right to fair administrative action.
The executive council consists of the chairperson, the vice chairperson the secretary general, the vice secretary general, the national treasurer, the national vice treasurer, the publicity secretary general / chief editor, the regional council chairpersons and three committee members.