BY BERNARD MOMANYI
NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 13 – Former Trade Assistant Minister Omingo Magara has lodged a complaint against lawyer Katwa Kigen for professional misconduct after the lawyer allegedly failed to pay him Sh4.1 million awarded to him by the High Court.
The money was paid to him by the Interim Independent Electoral Commission after the court found that the IIEC was responsible for errors that resulted in the petition.
Mr Magara claims he engaged Mr Kigen – who handles high profile cases including at the International Criminal Court – to represent him in the South Mugirango electoral petition and paid him all the fees agreed at Sh4 million but when the IIEC compensated him, the lawyer allegedly pocketed all the money.
“I was in constant touch with my former lawyer Mr Kigen but he kept saying the commission had not compensated us, until November when I wrote to the IIEC and indeed confirmed that the money had been sent to the lawyer’s account,” Mr Magara states in a sworn affidavit to the Advocates Complaints Committee.
He said the commission even supplied him with a copy of the payment voucher of the Sh4.1 million.
“It is clear that the advocate had knowledge and information regarding the taxed costs yet since 30th June 2010, to date he has never informed me of the taxation and remittance thereof,” Mr Magara states.
In his affidavit, Mr Magara indicates that he paid Mr Kigen Sh3 million as engagement fees, Sh1 million for a research advocate, Sh500,000 for an engagement assistant and an out of pocket allowance of Sh450,000 at Sh10,000 per day during the entire period the case was handled in Kisii.
The rest of the amount was for administrative work and other miscellaneous expenses all totaling to Sh7.9 million.
“After paying him all his fees and meeting all other expenses including arranging transport and accommodation for him whenever he traveled to Kisii, he still went ahead and pocketed all the Sh4.1 million compensated to me by the IIEC. This is professional misconduct,” Mr Magara said. “He is unfairly withholding the same and continues to do so for his own use and benefit to my detriment.”
Mr Kigen has however, denied ever involving himself in any form of professional misconduct in the Magara petition and maintains that he does not owe his former client a single cent.
“For the record, let me state here that I do not owe Magara any amount of money, it is him who owes me because he did not pay us the entire amount for our legal fees,” Mr Kigen told reporters at the Professional Centre, soon after the proceedings against him by the committee.
Mr Kigen told reporters that “the amount of money Magara gave us was a deposit for the case to proceed, we were to agree on the amount of money to be paid and it is way above what he gave us.”
The lawyer said Mr Magara owes him a substantial amount of money including for legal services he offered the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) when Magara was an official there.
Although Mr Magara admits that the party had engaged the lawyer when he was an ODM official, he denies ever committing himself in writing as the person who instructed him “and therefore I cannot pay for services which I did not ask for as a person.”
“I did not instruct him to do work for the party, therefore there is no way he can file claims against me. In fact, the case of ODM is not in any way related to the petition case we are talking about,” he added.
On Monday, Mr Magara and Mr Kigen were at the advocates’ complaints committee which has given them two weeks to file submissions on the counter accusations against one another before a hearing starts.
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