De­fence PS faces jail for block­ing pay to con­trac­tor

Business Daily (Kenya) - - ECONOMY & POLITICS - Brian Wa­suna bwa­suna@ke.na­tion­media.com

De­fence min­istry prin­ci­pal sec­re­tary Saitoti Torome risks jail after be­ing found in con­tempt of court for stalling a Sh1.4 bil­lion award to a con­trac­tor.

Mr Torome and lawyers from the At­tor­ney-gen­eral’s of­fice did not show up on Tues­day when Jus­tice Grace Nzioka was to is­sue a sen­tence to the De­fence PS for stalling a Sh1 bil­lion award to Kay Con­struc­tion which is seek­ing the pay­ment for work on the Laikipia Air­base.

At­tor­ney-gen­eral Githu Muigai has been sum­moned to ap­pear be­fore the judge to ex­plain why lawyers from his of­fice failed to at­tend a court ses­sion that was in­tended for the sen­tenc­ing of Mr Torome.

Jus­tice Nzioka had last month found Mr Torome in con­tempt of court after rul­ing that the De­fence PS has been aware of Kay Con­struc­tion’s award but stalled its pay­ment, hav­ing met the firm’s rep­re­sen­ta­tives over the dis­pute. Un­der Kenyan laws, con­tempt of court is pun­ish­able with a jail term of up to six months, or a fine not ex­ceed­ing Sh200,000. A judge can how­ever at his or her dis­cre­tion slap an in­di­vid­ual in con­tempt with both a fine and jail term.

Kay Con­struc­tion has been pur­su­ing pay­ment for the run­way works since 1994 when it com­pleted the re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion of Laikipia Air Base’s run­way.

Ar­bi­tra­tor Joseph Thuo in 2011 or­dered that the gov­ern­ment pays Kay Con­struc­tion Sh335 mil­lion for the work on the Laikipia Air Base. He also or­dered that the amount would gain a 16 per cent in­ter­est from 2009 un­til the con­struc­tion firm is paid in full. The award has since bal­looned to over Sh1.4 bil­lion.

The con­struc­tion firm in 2014 suc­cess­fully sued to have the De­fence min­istry com­pelled to pay it the award. Kay Con­struc­tion last year filed a con­tempt of court ap­pli­ca­tion against then De­fence PS Pe­ter Kaberia. The De­fence min­istry and Kay Con­struc­tion have since en­gaged in out-of-court talks.

FILE

SUIT De­fence prin­ci­pal sec­re­tary Saitoti Torome

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