Kenya: LSK Offices Turned Into Battleground as Boardroom War Rages

25 October 2020

For a week now, the Law Society of Kenya (LSK) offices on Gitanga Road in Nairobi have been turned into a battleground as a fierce boardroom war rages over the future of CEO Mercy Wambua.

So bad is the situation that in the course of the week officers from Muthangari Police Station were called to the offices to apparently ensure that the President Nelson Havi did not change the locks to the CEO's office.

"The police have no business being at LSK offices. LSK office is private property. The fact that police are there confirms my fear of state involvement," he told the Sunday Nation.

On mailing lists and social media, the battle is raging as the LSK president on one hand and a majority nine council members, who voted against the removal of Ms Wambua, on the other, release statements and counter statements.

Bank accounts

Those supporting the retention of the CEO appear to have control of the society's social media accounts and official email address, a situation Mr Havi has unsuccessfully attempted to reverse.

A letter by the LSK President directing the society's ICT officer to disable Ms Wambua's email account and hand over control of the Twitter handle and the official email to him seems not to have been acted upon.

Making matters worse for Mr Havi is the fact that he is not a signatory to the society's bank accounts. Two of the four signatories are on the side of the CEO, who is also an automatic signatory.

While the recent official exchanges on Ms Wambua have been made public, sources who spoke in confidence pointed out to the Sunday Nation there has been a silent feud between Mr Havi and the CEO going back to 2017.

That was the year Mr Havi was blocked from contesting on account that he had not attained the 15-year experience required of a presidential candidate.

"The decision to exclude me from the list of nominated candidates for LSK president was not made by the council but singly by CEO Mercy Wambua under external influence," Mr Havi tweeted on December 17, 2017.

The second incident happened in 2018/19 during the election of the male representative to the Judicial Service Commission (JSC).

Mr Havi was a strong supporter and campaigner for Prof Tom Ojienda.

Deep divisions

In the lead up to the elections in May 2019, Prof Ojienda had had issues with the Kenya Revenue Authority who had refused to issue him with a clearance certificate to enable him to present his nomination papers to LSK.

For Mr Havi, who spoke mostly on behalf of Prof Ojienda, Ms Wambua was at the centre of the decision not to clear Prof Ojienda without a KRA tax clearance certificate.

"With 73 per cent popularity, you understand why cartels must block Prof Ojienda from running for LSK male representative to JSC.

"LSK CEO invites nominations after his KRA certificate expires, KRA refuses to issue one and LSK insists on the certificate without legal basis," he said then.

These tweets, among others, had been produced by Ms Wambua's lawyers to demand that Mr Havi recuse himself from the recent hearings.

He declined and, despite being outvoted, announced Ms Wambua's supposed sacking, stirring deep divisions in the council that continue to play out in public.

While Prof Ojienda was eventually cleared on the strength of a court order and later a rule change that removed the requirement of tax compliance certificate, he would eventually lose to Mr Macharia Njeru amid claims of rigging, in which some in his camp partly pointed a finger at the CEO.

In the 2020 LSK elections that saw Mr Havi elected, his camp was grumbling that the CEO had taken sides and was supporting one of the candidates.

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