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Citizen Weekly

Sunday, 4 January 2015

AG Githu ejected from State House

Attorney General Githu Muigai could soon be out of his coveted position as the government’s chief legal adviser if events are anything to go by. Sources within the corridors of power have divulged that Githu has fallen out with top Jubilee leadership, including State House.
Unlike in the Kibaki regime when he was a regular visitor to the powerful political office in the land, and at times even engaging the retired Othaya born politician in Kikuyu language as they enjoyed a cup of coffee and shared a table for dinner, of late Githu is rarely seen at State House. He has told friends it was a bliss working with the Kibaki regime compared to Jubilee which has two centres of power on equal basis.
It has emerged, a serious power struggle has also hit the State Law Office pitting Githu and Solicitor-General Njee Muturi. Whereas the solicitor-general has traditionally played a behind-the-scenes role with the AG being more prominent, there is more than meets the eye regarding the true situation at the State Law Office.
Insiders say that Muturi has eclipsed Githu and blocked him accessing State House by virtue of being close to Uhuru Kenyatta compared to Githu. Muturi can visit the big office at any time and Uhuru enjoys sharing hot drinks with him on daily basis.
Further, the solicitor general is always spotted getting in and out of the president’s private residence located on Dennis Pritt Road, Nairobi.
The matter is so serious to the extent that even Uhuru gives directives and also makes reference to Muturi and Abdikadir Mohammed who is his adviser on constitutional and legislative issues and not Githu who ought to be in the mainstream.
Majority of people close to Uhuru see Githu as a carryover baggage from the Kibaki administration and is now believed to have outlived his usefulness, hence the plot to show him the exit gate when time comes. What is saving him is that his office enjoys security of tenure.
Sources say had it not been that as AG, he enjoys the security of tenure, Githu could have been hounded out of the State Law Office. But what has now come to openly play out is a claim by the AG that he was not fully involved in drafting the now contentious Security Laws (Amendment) Bill 2014 which was suspended last week by the courts.
The AG is also accused of failing to fight grand corruption. Last year, Githu was in the news on Anglo-Leasing payout. It generated a lot of heat with a censure motion being proposed by the Law Society of Kenya. Many saw corruption in the Sh1.4 billion payment to First Mercantile Securities Corporation and the Universal Satspace (North America) LLC.
Documents reveal that First Mercantile Securities Corporation was the main financier, Universal Satspace &Space net the supplier in the Postal Corporation of Kenya’s Sh1.03 billion-project to equip the country’s 980 post offices with internet. It was cancelled two years later in 2004 in controversial circumstances.
As things got hot with Kenyans baying for his blood, Githu said he was as the “mortician” who performed the last rites. The patient long died on the surgical table, he said. In his defence, Amos Wako now Busia senator whom Githu succeeded said he gave the baton to a person he considered a qualified surgeon.
At one time Githu was advised on the need to enter into a settlement deed in the most favourable terms so as to avoid jeopardising the issuance of the Sovereign Bond as per minutes of meeting held on March 28 2014. The AG, Treasury cabinet secretary were roped in.
Henry Rotich, Muturi, Postal Corporation of Kenya company secretary Jane Otieno, senior Deputy Solicitor General Muthoni Kimani, and the claimant’s advocates Muin Malik and Henry Ongicho attended.
“The Attorney General informed counsel for the claimants that the republic was desirous of resolving these matters through an agreement and requested (Mr Malik) to be flexible and agree to a favourable settlement without recourse to the judgment award,” the minutes state.
That Muturi word influenced Uhuru to back the payment against all odds in his note to Treasury which reads, “We ... advise that your ministry makes every effort to urgently resolve this matter to avoid further loss which is accruing through interest on the court award and further legal cost which will be incurred if the republic has to appoint counsel to represent it in the execution proceedings in which there is no plausible defence”.
Solicitor General wrote to treasury principal secretary Kamau Thugge on February 19 2014.
Kenya eventually paid a total of Sh1.4 billion to FMSC and Universal Satspace in mid-April.
Reports indicate that Jubilee administration has soft spot for Muturi who has since become increasingly powerful to the extent that he has even overshadowed the rumours have it that he is actually the AG in waiting.
There have been rumours that a plot has been hatched to force Githu to resign as it happened with the Inspector General of Police David Kimaiyo. The plot also involves taking amendment laws to parliament to remove security of tenure of the AG.
Those well-versed with operations at State Law office say that Githu has been sidelined in a number of legal matters with some of his duties being assigned to Muturi, the preferred heir apparent.
Kenyans must have noticed that Muturi has become increasingly influential and powerful unlike his predecessor, Wanjuki Muchemi, who worked under retired Mwai Kibaki and  Uhuru Kenyatta.
Trouble for Githu was brought by the manner he handled the ICC case involving Uhuru. Those close to Uhuru claimed that before Uhuru was elected, he casually handled the matter and only changed tactic when Uhuru was elected. The matter is also threatening to split Jubilee as those allied to DP William Ruto claim that Githu has not given Ruto the kind of committed service he gave to Uhuru.
Another bone of contention is the claim that Githu is suspected to have close links with Cord leader Raila Odinga who is his next home neighbour in Karen. Way back in February 2011 when Kibaki made several appointments including that of Githu  as AG, without consulting Raila, the list had to be withdrawn but Raila said that he had no objections against Githu. It is widely believed that Githu and Raila are still buddies and Jubilee suspects he shares a lot with Raila.
Muturi is an advocate of High Court and has been a personal assistant of Uhuru since his days as nominated MP in 2002.
Currently, Muturi is the accounting officer at the State Law Office and Department of Justice and his duties include organising, co-coordinating and managing the administrative and as the case may be, the legal functions of the office.
Muturi also assists the AG in the performance of his duties.
Githu’s worst moment was last week when High Court Judge Justice George Odunga suspended the security laws and what shocked many is revelation by Githu that he was not fully consulted over the matter. Keen watchers might have noticed that even when the case was being heard, he was rarely in court but Muturi was the one in taking charge.
Instead, the AG was all over local television stations trying to defend his office as his junior overshadowed him in the corridors of power. At one time, your unrivalled Weekly Citizen spotted Githu driving himself in a four-wheel vehicle next to Raphael Tuju’s kingly residence, talking on a mobile phone with no passengers or aide.
Justice Odunga last week put on hold eight sections of the Act saying some clauses touch on fundamental issues of Bills of Rights, the core of nationalism. Among the suspended clauses are:- Clause 12 that inserts a new section into the Penal Code that targets media and crowd sourced reporting. Clause 16, that along with Clauses 15-21, amend the Criminal Procedure Code to increase the hold of the carceral state, ie permitting the police to hold arrested suspects longer than 24 hours. Clauses 26 and 29 of The Evidence Act that along Clauses
26-31, allows electronic messages and digital material to be admissible as evidence in legal proceedings.
Clause 48 of the Refugees Act, that along with Clauses 45-48, limits the number of refugees permitted to be in Kenya to 150,000 or a number to be determined by the legislature; restricting refugees’ freedom of movement, as they must now stay in camps, unless they receive permission to move out of those camps; and limiting the amount of time refugees might need to settle in refugees must report to Kenyan authorities immediately.
Clauses 56 and 58 that amended the National Intelligence Service Act by giving national intelligence agencies substantially more power to arrest suspects arbitrarily; enter into any residences and conduct arbitrary searches based on permission from the Director General; and, in general, violate many constitutional provisions that guarantee privacy and security of the person.
Clause 64 of Prevention of Terrorism Act, that along with
Clauses 60-74 amend the Prevention of Terrorism Act.
Sources say when Jubilee MPs held a meeting at State House, Githu was not invited Muturi presence was felt.
Word has it, right from drafting to the passing and final assent to the Security Laws (Amendment) Bill by Uhuru,  Githu had no idea and was overshadowed by Muturi who is his junior in the State Law Office.  It is not known however if he was sidelined or he chose to keep off the contentious Bill. When Uhuru assended to the bill at State House. Githu was not present.
We have gathered that Muturi played a key role in various meetings, including high profile ones with Uhuru at State House, and in lobbying for the passage of the law. He was the one who had personal contact with MPs as Githu was kept in the darkness.
It is imperative to note that hours before the Bill was debated during a special sitting, Muturi was all over parliament running up and down to ensure the Bill sailed through. Those well versed with the power struggle at the State Law office say Muturi literally eclipsed Githu to become the legal face of the law in public and in private.
“Those doubting that Githu has been sidelined should ask themselves why Githu was conspicuously missing at a State House function on December 19 where Uhuru assented the Bill into Law, it was Muturi who was standing next to the president, alongside House Speaker Justin Muturi, Majority Leader Aden Duale and other officials. I rest my case,” our source concluded as he sipped a glass of ice cold water at five-star hotel in Westlands.
Another proof that Githu has been sidelined is that when the case  was ongoing, Muturi appeared in the High Court to defend the government but under normal circumstances, in such high-profile cases, it is often the AG himself who appears and, in his absence, Deputy Solicitor-General Muthoni Kimani or a senior state counsel. 
At another function, it was Muturi, and not Githu who accompanied the Chief of Staff and Head of Civil Service Joseph Kinyua, Interior principal secretary Monica Juma and Foreign PS Karanja Kibicho in a meeting in Nairobi to brief diplomats on the law after some, particularly the US envoy, voiced objection.