Chaos erupt at LSK meeting as members demand audit in construction of Arbitration Centre

Senior counsel John Khaminwa (left) tries to calm a charged lawyer, Edwin Sifuna, after chaos erupted during the Law Society of Kenya's Annual General Meeting on March 21, 2015 at Hilton Hotel as the society's president Eric Mutua (far back) looks on . PHOTO | JEFF ANGOTE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Senior counsel John Khaminwa (left) tries to calm a charged lawyer, Edwin Sifuna, after chaos erupted during the Law Society of Kenya’s Annual General Meeting on March 21, 2015 at Hilton Hotel as the society’s president Eric Mutua (3rd right) looks on . PHOTO | JEFF ANGOTE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

By NGARE KARIUKI

The future of the Law Society of Kenya (LSK) hangs in the balance after this year’s Annual General Meeting (AGM) ended in chaos with tempers flaring and some members coming to near blows.

LSK chairman Eric Mutua was on Saturday shouted down during the AGM after he denied some of the members a chance to propose a motion on the International Arbitration and Convention Centre row.

A group of lawyers led by Edwin Sifuna demanded that the LSK council address the controversial project before any other matter and when Mr Mutua declined, chaos ensued.

The LSK boss initially declined to let Sifuna speak but after pressure from the audience, he yielded the podium to the Okoa-LSK leader.

Mr Sifuna said no other matter should be discussed until the issue of the International Arbitration and Convention Centre was addressed.

SENT ON SUSPENSION

“I would also like to propose that Price Water House Coopers be contracted to carry out a forensic audit on the financing of the project so far. We suspect foul play and the council is trying to downplay it,” he said.

He added that the LSK CEO Apollo Mboya be sent on ‘compulsory leave’ while the audit was going on so that he does not interfere with the process.

At this point, Mr Mutua interrupted him, sparking an uproar in the room with members booing and asking him to let the people speak.

The crowd could not be dissuaded. Even after veteran lawyer John Khaminwa implored the members to be respectful to the county, the uproar just got louder.

Eventually, Mr Mutua declared the AGM officially over and the council members quickly left the room through a side exit.

Upon the council’s exit, the society members quickly formed an interim council chaired by lawyer Assa Nyakundi and went on to vote on the issues raised by Mr Sifuna.

ABANDON CONSTRUCTION

Lawyer Jacqueline Manani presented a motion that the construction of the International Arbitration and Convention Centre be abandoned and that an office building for the society be bought instead.

“Our own research has revealed that it is way cheaper to buy a building compared to the Sh1.2 billion that is required to build one from the ground up. The insistence by the council to build casts suspicions on where this money is really going,” she said.

Mr Mutua has previously and severally claimed that the construction of the center is being run transparently and those opposing the project are moles planted by the Jubilee administration to paint a negative picture of LSK.

Saturday’s incident comes barely five days after the Mutua-led council put the Jubilee administration to task over allegations of corruption in the Parliamentary Accounts Committee and the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission.

According to a lawyer in the meeting, this is the first time the council has ever walked out on an LSK AGM in the society’s 67 years of existence.

Daily Nation

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