High court disbands Kibaki NHIF caretaker board citing unconstitutionality
The Nairobi high court Thursday yet again stopped President Mwai kibaki in his tracks by quashing the appointments of a caretaker board he constituted to manage the national health insurer citing Kibaki having usurped the constitution.
This is not the first time the president has been forced to eat humble pie, but contrary to previous reversals of his decisions, Prime Minister Raila Odinga was consulted in the appointments of the now nullified NHIF caretaker Board.
Medical services minister Prof. Anyang’ Nyong’o however might have gotten another opportunity to reinstate suspended National Hospital Insurance Fund Chief executive officer Richard Kerich barring an appeal by the caretaker board.
Justice Weldon Korir in his ruling noted that President kibaki went against the law when he sanctioned the interim board despite much consultations with the Premier.
The ruling was preceded by a request made to the court by the Kenya Medical Association (KMA) which sought temporary orders to suspend the caretaker board while awaiting the hearing of their suit.
KMA had accused the president of violating section four of NHIF Act which requires him to appoint the association’s chairman to the board.
According to KMA’s suit papers, the president also failed to appoint to the board the Treasury permanent secretary and a nominee from the Kenya National Farmers union
“In this case brought before me the applicant argues that the president ought to have composed the new board in accordance with section 4(1) of the NHIF Act” said justice Korir.
However the caretaker board through its acting Chief Executive Adan A Adan said that they would appeal the ruling made by the court and they will remain in office until the investigation into the alleged mega scandal involving the civil servants’ medical scheme is concluded.
“We have been given seven days to appeal against the ruling, and we have instructed our lawyer to do just that, but with the current state of affairs work will have to go on” said Adan.
Suspended CEO Richard Kerich stands to gain if the appeal fails having been earlier grilled by parliament and found not guilty of making dubious allocations to hospitals earmarked by NHIF to offer services to civil servants.
The NHIF scheme was supposed to be Kenya’s first ever universal healthcare cover to civil servants and members of the disciplined forces. However, it is alleged that massive irregularities associated with its implementation might have cost the taxpayer close to Ksh.4 billion in misappropriation.
The latest salvo from the high court comes after Keriako Tobiko, the Director of Public Prosecutions turned down a request by Anyang Nyong’o to reinstate Kerich. According to Tobiko, investigations touching on Kerich were still underway by the Ethics and Anticorruption Commission and the police. He further argues that reinstating Kerich at this point would rather jeopardize any progress that has been made so far in getting to the bottom of the scandal.
However it emerges that on Wednesday Nyongo had reinstated the suspended Kerich, arguing that his name had been cleared of any wrong doing and should therefore be allowed back to work.
The other most recent reversal of Kibaki’s appointments was that of the 47 County Commissioners, who were sent parking by the High Court in Nairobi over what has now become the president’s bane; breaking the law.
Meanwhile, the judges vetting board whose mandate was extended by parliament last month has returned the latest verdict with several big names facing the axe and others being cleared for duty.
A Supreme Court judge, Mohammed Ibrahim has been found unfit to hold public office by the vetting board in Nairobi alongside other justices Friday.
Justice Mohammed Ibrahim received a negative evaluation in the ongoing judiciary vetting process led by Sharad Rao. He is the first Supreme Court justice to have reservations cast at their reputation as public servants going by previous record evaluated by the Judges vetting body. The Supreme Court is the highest court in Kenya’s Judiciary.
The reason for this recommendation made against Justice Ibrahim is what the committee said was unreasonable delays in delivering judgments. The recommendation from the board means he must relinquish his post in the Judiciary going by what had happened to Riaga Omollo, Emmanuel O’kubasu, Samuel Bosire and Joseph Nyamu of the Court of Appeal.
The other judge whose evaluation returned negative recommendations is Roselyn Nambuye of the Court of appeal judge who was found to be unfit to serve in the judiciary with what the vetting board termed as delaying judgments.
Some of the judges who passed the test included Court of appeal judges Kihara kariuki and Hannah okwengu who the vetting board gave a nod to continue serving. Supreme Court Judge jackton Boma Ojwang also passed the test by the board.
The board described Justice Ojwang as a dedicated and industrious judge.