A member of Uhuru's cabinet faces jail term for stalling Sh1.4 billion payment to a contractor

The PS risks a jail term after being found in contempt court for failing to pay a contractor

A member of President Uhuru Kenyatta's Cabinet faces a jail term after being found in contempt court for blocking pay worth billions to a contractor, the Business Daily reports.

Defence ministry principal secretary Saitoti Torome risks jail for stalling a Sh1 billion award to Kay Construction which is seeking the payment for work on the Laikipia Airbase.

Justice Grace Nzioka has summoned Attorney General Githu Muigai to explain why his lawyers failed to attend a court session on Tuesday which Mr. Torome co-incidentally did not show up.

Justice Nzioka had last month found Mr Torome in contempt of court after ruling that the Defence PS has been aware of Kay Construction’s award but stalled its payment, having met the firm’s representatives over the dispute.

Contempt of court is punishable under the Kenyan law with a jail term of up to six months, or a fine not exceeding Sh200,000. A judge can however at his or her discretion slap an individual in contempt with both a fine and jail term.

Kay Construction has been pursuing payment for the runway works since 1994 when it completed the rehabilitation of Laikipia Air Base’s runway.

Arbitrator Joseph Thuo in 2011 ordered that the government pays Kay Construction Sh335 million for the work on the Laikipia Air Base. He also ordered that the amount would gain a 16 per cent interest from 2009 until the construction firm is paid in full. The award has since ballooned to over Sh1.4 billion.

Justice Nzioka had said that Mr Torome would be given an opportunity to mitigate his sentence before she prescribes his punishment but the Defence PS failed to appear in court on Tuesday.

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