Auditor general Ouko defended as civil society face parliament

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BY NAMULONGO PETER,NAIROBI,1ST MARCH 2017-Civil society organizations on Monday presented a  strong defence of Auditor-General Edward Ouko amid allegations contained in a petition seeking his removal from office.

Accountants professional body (ICPAK) is among the institutions who have defended Ouko The Institute of Certified Public Accountants of Kenya , which is the body mandated to regulate accountants, absolved Ouko of complicity in the irregular appointment of Baker Tilly Merali to audit the accounts of the Office of the Auditor General.

Ouko admitted last  Tuesday to giving Baker Tilly Merali, who had been appointed by Parliament to audit the accounts of the Kenya National Audit Office, a separate job to assess internal controls.

The petitioner wants Ouko sacked on grounds of violating the Constitution by allegedly failing to submit yearly reports to the House and the President, and using his position for procurement malpractices/FILE

In 2015, ICPAK admitted to partnering with the Kenya National Audit Office in commissioning audit firm Baker Tilly Merali to develop the guidelines that will help enhance the capacity of small and medium firms to audit the public sector and donor-funded projects.

Vice Chairman Fernandes Barasa said they looked at the engagement and found that there was no breach or conflict of interest as had been alleged by the petitioner.

Barasa however urged the MPs to come up with a substantive law which will bar independent commissions from entering into such contracts, saying even though they met international accounting standards, the law requires review to align it with the Kenyan situation.

The National Assembly has in the meantime granted the Finance and Trade Committee a 21 day extension to continue probing alleged gross misconduct by the Auditor-General.

Meanwhile, governance and accountability lobby groups which appeared before the House team told of a well calculated ‘sinister and mischievous’ attempt to coerce Ouko out of office.

The NGOs led by Houghton Irungu (Society of International Development) and Samuel Kimeu (Transparency International – Kenya) urged the MPs to dismiss the petition as a ‘waste of parliamentary time.’

They said the petition was inadmissible as it was evident from the petitioner’s submissions that it was incomplete.
Irungu said the petitioner Emmanuel Mwagonah, a city based lawyer, was being insincere and misleading the MPs when he claimed that Ouko has not regularly filed mandatory annual reports with Houses of Parliament and President.

He said Ouko has on several occasions complained that his office is starved of funds and is not adequately staffed which affects it capacity to submit audit reports on the Central Government and 47 County Governments.

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