By Julius Otieno
ormer Attorney General Githu Muigai is on the spot over the hiring of six international law firms to handle Kenya’s maritime border dispute with Somalia at The Hague, Netherlands.
Auditor General Edward Ouko has cast doubt on the procedure the State Law Office used to procure the lawyers to represent the country in the high-profile case.
The case was filed by Somalia against Kenya at the International Court of Justice over a disputed maritime border in the Indian Ocean.
The six are among the 17 international law firms Muigai hired in the 2017-18 financial year for Sh420.50 million to handle cases filed against the country internationally.
But the auditor questioned how the AG’s office determined the fees paid to the lawyers as their details were not availed for audit review.
“Although the management explained that that the payments were related to legal fees paid to international firms for handling international cases on behalf of the government, details on how the law firms were procured and their fees determined were not provided for audit review,” Ouko said.
Schedules provided by the State Law Office shows that the government contracted London based Marbdy Consulting Limited, Prof Vaughan Lowe, Prof Alan Boyle and Ms Army Sander on December 14, 2017, to represent the government in the maritime delimitation in the Indian Ocean (Kenya vs Somalia).
The lawyers were paid Sh2.15 million, Sh2.86 million, Sh2.42 million and Sh1.78 million respectively for their services. On the same day, the government also hired Prof Mathias Forteau from France for Sh2.64 million to represent it in the case.
Muigai was the Attorney General at the time.
A year later, on December 14, 2018, the state law office contracted another French lawyer, Prof Payam Akhavan for Sh13.12 million for the same case.
“In addition, out of the total payments of Sh420,506,285, only payment authorities amounting to Sh25,703,123 were availed for audit verification, leaving a balance of Sh394,803,162 unsupported,” the report read.
Kenya and Somalia have been fighting for years over their boundary in the Indian Ocean. At the centre of the dispute is the control of lucrative oil and natural gas blocks.
While Kenya argued the blocks are within its maritime borders, Somalia has accused Kenya of encroaching on its territory.
In 2014, Somalia filed the case against Kenya at the International Court of Justice at The Hague, Netherlands.
In February, the countries were engaged in an ugly quarrel over the border after Kenya recalled its ambassador to Mogadishu and ordered the Somali envoy out of Nairobi.
This was over alleged plans by Somalia to auction the oil and gas blocks that Kenya claims.
“This unparalleled affront and illegal grab at the resources of Kenya will not go unanswered and is tantamount to an act of aggression against the people of Kenya and their resources,” Foreign Affairs PS Macharia Kamau said.
Source: The Star