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Bungoma County appointments nullified in tribal row

06 May 2014, 17:03 Arap Yego

Bungoma - A high court in Bungoma has nullified the appointments of 13 county chief officers, following the successful petition by members of the minority Bong'omek community, who had filed a suit against the local authority citing their unfair exclusion from the posts.

Bungoma High court judge, Alfred Mabeya while making the landmark ruling on Monday, also declared that the Bong’omek are a minority community and should be treated as a special interest group by the local county government in any subsequent appointments.

Mabeya said that members of the Bong’omek community, which according to the 2009 census has a population of 3 704 people, had proved to the court beyond reasonable doubt that they were unfairly excluded from the county chief officers appointments.

Through lawyer Oncharo Kebira, the community members rejected the list of Bungoma county officers arguing that there was discrimination and lack of affirmative action of minorities in contravention of articles 10(2b), 19(2)  23(3), 27 (4) and 56(a-e) of the Kenyan constitution.

“The court finds the constitutional rights of the Bong’omek have been grossly violated in the recruitment and deployment of county chief officers. Despite having no representative in any of the plum leadership positions in Bungoma county, their sole nominee who appeared before the interview panel did not get the job,” said judge Mabeya.

The judge, while delivering his ruling also said that the Bungoma county assembly select committee  vetted the nominees for the county chief officers and approved the names when they appeared before the house assembly even after the group served the speaker of the house with the petition.

Justice Mabeya said both the county assembly and the select house committee that vetted the nominees for the county chief officers erred in adopting the names of the 13 nominees. He said they did so  in blatant disregard to the petitioners' request that the names should not be adopted. 

“This is against the petitioners' rights of fair administrative action,” he stated and added quickly, "This court cannot uphold a process that undermines the law. The decision by the select county assembly committee that approved the nominees is therefore quashed and reversed, as it was both irregular and unconstitutional.”

According to the judge,  the respondents in the case who include the Bungoma Governor, the county public service board and the speaker of the county assembly have seven days to file an appeal against the decision at the Kisumu Court of Appeal. 

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