Governors accuse Senate of witch-hunt in impeachments

Thursday, May 20th, 2021 00:00 |
Council of Governors chairman Martin Wambora when he paid a courtesy call to Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho yesterday. The two later addressed a media briefing outside Joho’s office. Photo/PD/Harrison Kivisu

Harrison Kivisu and Hillary Mageka

Stung by Monday’s impeachment of Wajir colleague Mohamed Abdi Mahamud, governors have called a crisis meeting tomorrow to take a common position on what they term as a “political witch-hunt” targeting them.

Addressing a press conference in Mombasa yesterday, the Council of Governors (COG) chairman Martin Wambora raised concern about the latest impeachment by the Senate.

The county chiefs also accused the Wajir County Assembly and the Senate of ignoring court orders that had barred them from debating Mahamud’s impeachment motion.

They also claimed the 11-member committee chaired by Nyamira Senator Okong’o Omogeni had deliberately failed to consider the governor’s exonerating evidence on health.

“The impeachment process appears to be a political witch-hunt, a vice that should not be allowed to disrupt governance,” Wambora said in the statement.

But in a rejoinder, the County Assemblies Forum (CAF) chairperson Wahome Ndegwa dismissed the governors’ concerns saying they have nothing to fear if they have not broken the law.

According to Ndegwa, the rift between governors and MCAs is caused by the former’s condescending approach to issues, and the “desire to treat the assemblies as the junior arm of the county government”.

“If the governors would surrender the documents required by assemblies and respond to assemblies’ inquiries, these issues would not be there,” he told People Daily.

Last month, 37 out 45 Wajir MCAs voted to impeach  Mahamud whom they accused of flouting the County Government Act, Public Procurement Act, Asset Disposal Act and the Public Finance Management Act, among other allegations.

On Monday, 25 senators upheld the ouster motion on grounds of gross violation of the Constitution, despite most of the senators discrediting the grounds of his  impeachment before the vote.

During the roll call vote, 25 voted to remove him, two voted against while four abstained.

Wambora cited the Kirinyaga case where the Senate acquitted Governor Anne Waiguru, who had been charged with a similar violation of degrading the health  of the county’s residents.

“Senate has failed to have standards of what amounts to gross violations of the Constitution.

For example, in the Kirinyaga case, the Senate acquitted the governor who had been charged with similar violations,” Wambora charged.  

Hurried swearing in

The senate committee, however, maintained that the allegation of violation of the Right to Health of the People of Wajir County had been substantiated and recommended that the House upholds Mahamud’s impeachment.

“The committee, therefore, finds that charge one on gross violation of the Constitution of Kenya, the County Government Act 2012, the Public Procurement and Asset Disposal Act, 2015 and the Public Finance Management Act 2012 has been substantiated,’ the report adds.

Mahamud said that while the committee had found him culpable of deteriorating health status it was not an  impeachable matter.

He said the impeachment before the House did not meet the threshold.

“It may be impeachable but it cannot amount to gross violation of the Constitution. I’m saying this because we’ve done a lot in the county since I became Governor of Wajir,” the governor told senators.

The governors also protested the hurried manner in which Mahamud’s deputy Ahmed Ali Muktar was sworn in.

According to the governors’, Muktar’s swearing in violated the provisions of Assumptions of office of a Governor Act.

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