Milimani law court photo
Milimani law court

The Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) has been given the power to hold government employees accountable and punish them if their illegal or unethical actions cost the federal government money.

Judge Justice Esther Maina of the High Court made this important decision on February 9.

She said that the EACC has the right to ask for money back from public servants whose illegal actions cause damage to or affect public property.

Charles Ringera, CEO of the Higher Education Loans Board (HELB), filed a lawsuit in the Supreme Court, which resulted in the ruling.

He was fighting against the EACC's decision to hold him financially responsible for a loss of KES 491,852.20 caused by his illegal actions.

The EACC had given him a notice of demand for a surcharge and required him to repay HELB by depositing the sum.

After reviewing charges of office misconduct against the HELB CEO, the EACC issued the payment order.

The HELB Chief Financial Officer and the Finance Manager are said to have been given permission by the CEO to give Mr. Geoffrey Monari, the Chief Operations Officer, irregular pay raises without the permission of the HELB Board.

The decision was based on the EACC's constitutional and legislative power to protect public property, which was judged to include getting public servants to pay for the loss of public property they were responsible for.

The EACC had finished its investigation and asked for help from the Public Service Commission and the Salaries and Remunerations Commission.

They found that the Ringera had illegally authorized the reassessment of the basic pay of then-Chief Operations Officer Geoffrey Monari and told the CFO to carry it out, which is against the rules for public employees.

Article 226(5) of the Constitution says, "If the holder of a public office, including a political office, directs or authorizes the use of public money contrary to law or instructions, the person is responsible for any loss that results from such use and should make good the loss, whether or not the person remains the holder of the office." The progressive reimbursements that Ringera gave to Monari broke this law.

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