Ex-Treasury CS Yatani threatens to sue Controller of Budget for defamation

Former Cabinet Secretary for the National Treasury, Ukur Yatani, has said he will take legal action against the Controller of Budget Margaret Nyakang’o for making false and malicious allegations against him.

In a statement issued on Wednesday, Yatani denied that he had pressured her to make unauthorized payments during his time in office and described the claims as “false, malicious and actionable in law”.

Additionally, he claimed that the Controller of Budget’s portrayal of his acts as intended to promote the theft of public funds was slanderous and derogatory of his character and his many years of professional service to the public.

“This depiction is libelous and defamatory to my character and professional service to the public in many capacities. I have instructed my lawyers to study her utterances and advice on a law suit against her person,” Yatani said.

Yatani went on to cite Article 223 of the 2010 constitution, which he said empowered him to authorize expenditures that had not been appropriated by Parliament in certain situations, without the approval of Parliament.

He stated that the Controller of Budget’s claim that he pressed her to authorize “certain payments” without parliamentary approval was “planned malice,” since once such monies were committed, parliamentary approval was sought post-facto within a two-month period.

“The Controller of Budget insinuated that there was a rush to have these funds approved with the intention of stealing from the public. Yet the truth is that these funds were in respect of Fuel and Maize subsidies. This was to cushion families during the uncertain period of unprecedented high food and fuel prices occasioned by both external and internal environments,” Yatani said.

Yatani also questioned the constitutionality of the Controller of Budget’s approval of KES 127.5 billion in national government spending through a supplementary budget using the same rules that applied to the KES 15 billion that she now said were irregular. He accused her of using her discretion selectively in order to protect herself from the uncertainty of a regime shift.

Yatani added that the KES 15 billion expenditure was part of the KES 127.5 billion supplementary budget that had been presented by the current Cabinet Secretary for the National Treasury on January 31, 2023, and that had been signed into law by President William Ruto on March 7, 2023.

He said that if the funds had been approved with the intention of stealing public funds, they would not have been included in the supplementary budget.

Yatani defended the expenditure, saying that it had been allocated to fuel and maize subsidies to cushion families during a period of unprecedented high food and fuel prices, as well as to the construction of Lamu-Garissa and Garissa-Isiolo Roads, which were of national security importance.

The former CS further accused the Controller of Budget of politicizing her office and using it to get back at those seen as a stumbling block to her.

He cited a request presented to his office on behalf of Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua for the approval and disbursement of KES 1.59 billion for his office use, which he said included KES 300 million for cars and KES 330 million for hospitality, and which he had only partially granted due to financial constraints.

Yatani questioned whether the Controller of Budget had “weaponized” her office to get back at those seen as obstacles to her under the new administration.

“It’s clear that these malicious allegations and line of narratives are politically choreographed and designed to hurt innocent public servants due to change of regime, which unfortunately, will have a long term unhealthy effects of precipitating fear and inactions in future,” he said.

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