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Why City Hall paid Sh30m to lawyer who also works for Kidero

City Hall paid Sh30 million as legal fee to a private lawyer despite the county government having a legal office.

The payment was made to Prof Ojienda & Company Advocates after representing City Hall in a case that was filed by 26 matatu owners over adjustment of parking fees.

The firm has represented Governor Evans Kidero in various law suits including the ongoing defamation case against Kakamega County Senator Bonny Khalwale.

The Nairobi City County Chief legal officer Karisa Iha on Monday told the County Assembly Public Accounts Committee (PAC) that they had given the case to the law firm owing to its experience with constitutional cases compared to the legal team at the city Hall.

“The case was too complicated for us. We are constitutionally allowed to get advocates who have skills on various cases,”said Mr Iha.

OVERWHELMED

The committee was told that the legal department had only nine lawyers who are often overwhelmed by the volume of work and hence the need to hire private law firms.

The Auditor General has previously questioned how Prof Ojienda & Company Advocates had billed City Hall a fee of Sh92 million which was later watered down to sh30 million.

Mr Iha however defended the payment, saying that the adjustment from sh92 million to sh30 million was justifiable as it was the product of mutual negotiations between the two parties.

The law firm represented City Hall in the case in which matatu owners opposed increment of parking fees that contained in the Nairobi City County Finance Act 2013.

The Act proposed a parking fee increment from sh200 per day to sh400 per day for Public Service Vehicles and an increment from sh140 to sh 300 per day for private cars.

Mr Iha told the committee that the case was crucial to the county which anticipated to collect sh1.9 billion in revenue for the financial year 2013/2014 in parking fees.

BILLIONS SAVED

“Had the matatu owners succeeded, the county government would have risked to suffer in five years a total of sh.9.5 billion. But through our robust representation the petition was dismissed,”said Mr Iha.

When asked by the Chairperson the PAC committee Mr Robert Mbatia on the number of cases still pending in court, he reluctantly refused to answer and only joked that City Hall had won many cases and also lost so many cases.

The PAC committee also queried the legality of the newly created County Attorney position, saying that the assembly had not been indulged on the creation of the office and had also not vetted the holder of the office.

“We even have a County Attorney which is an illegality. We as the assembly were not informed of such an office and neither was it gazetted,”said Mr.Mbatia.