Nairobi — The Chief Registrar of the Judiciary Gladys Shollei has made it clear that she, and not the Judicial Service Commission, has the last word where financial decisions of the Judiciary are concerned.
In an interim response to the JSC's investigation of her for alleged financial impropriety, Shollei reiterates that she is accountable to the Auditor General's office and the Public Procurement Oversight Authority (PPOA) and not the JSC, where the Judiciary's financial and procurement decisions are concerned.
"The law clearly stipulates that on matters of procurement, I am answerable directly to the PPOA. Similarly, in matters of financial management I am answerable directly to the National Assembly through the Internal Auditor General at National Treasury," she states in her 61-page response.
Shollei goes on to explain that the JSC can only intervene in these matters when invited to do so by the Cabinet Secretary in charge of the National Treasury.
"Section 74 (2) (b) (of the Public Finance and Management Act) provides that if the Cabinet Secretary believes that the accounting officer has engaged in improper conduct in relation to the resources of the entity he/she shall refer the matter to the relevant body in terms of the conditions of appointment," Shollei referenced.
And while acknowledging that she is responsible to the JSC on matters human resource, Shollei clarified that the Judicial Service Staff Regulations (JSSR) allowed her to hire casual workers where needed without seeking the JSC's approval.
"Despite the JSSR granting my office powers to engage temporary staff and the Judicial Service Act appointing me as the authorised officer in charge of human resources, the JSC has resolved to be the one to hire even a cleaner for a single day," she stated.
Shollei has called for the Attorney General to" in the very near future" outline, "the complementary yet different constitutional roles," of her office, that of the Chief Justice and that of the Judicial Service Commission.
But despite the conscious effort to impress upon the JSC the powers conferred to the Office of the Chief Registrar by Kenyan Law Shollei went on to answer the questions put to her by the JSC in, "the spirit of transparency and collegiality," as she put it.
The majority of the questions Shollei addressed when she appeared before the National Assembly's Justice and Legal Affairs Committee in August.
The majority of the questions touched on the leasing of Elgon Place and Rahimtulla for the Court of Appeal judges, her management style and the adoption of an ICT system for the Judiciary.
And as she did when she appeared the Parliamentary committee, Shollei had no kind words for JSC Commissioners Emily Ominde, Mohamed Warsame and Ahmednasir Abdullahi.
Mostly, she reproached Abdullahi who she accused of attempting to skirt, not once, laws governing public procurement.
"This is not the first time Commissioner Ahmednasir has approached me in procurement matters," she said in reference to the procurement of a Court of Appeal facility in Mombasa, "he approached me to purchase a multi-story building in Eastleigh for the Judiciary (and in another instance) requested that his colleagues company be awarded ICT infrastructure contracts that were budgeted for approximately Sh630 million."
When she first levelled allegations of impropriety against him, Abdullahi put it down to Shollei pursuing a vendetta.
"The problem I have with some lawyers is that they think I have brought their world to an end through the reforms I brought in when I was the Law Society of Kenya Chairman," he tried to explain.