Senators to deliver verdict on Wajir governor impeachment

Monday, May 17th, 2021 00:00 |
Wajir governor Mohamed Mohamud (left) with his lawyers when he appeared before the Senate committee on his impeachment last week. Photo/PD/Samuel Kariuki

Hillary Mageka @hillarymageka

Wajir Governor Mohamed Abdi Mohamud will today know whether the Senate will uphold or reject his impeachment by the County Assembly.

The Senate is expected to debate the report of the 11-member committee picked to hear the impeachment case.

Last month, the MCAs impeached the governor for alleged abuse of office, violation of the Constitution, violations under written law and undermining the authority of the assembly.

The committee chaired by Nyamira Senator Okong’o Omogeni is expected to table its report on whether Mohamud should leave office or not. Omogeni’s team retreated at the weekend to write its report after two days of hearings.

The County Assembly laid out its case against Mohamud, saying there were sufficient grounds to remove him from office.

“After tabling such overwhelming evidence, the only option left for the committee is to recommend that Governor Mohamed Abdi Mohamud’s tenure as Wajir Governor should come to an end,” Senior Counsel Ahmednasir Abdullahi, the lead counsel for the County Assembly, said in his closing remarks on Thursday.

But the governor’s lawyers Paul Nyamodi and Ndegwa Njiru pressed the MCAs to prove the counts of gross violation of the Constitution and subsidiary laws as well as abuse of office and gross misconduct.

Executive committee

Senate Speaker Ken Lusaka has gazetted today as a special sitting to discuss the committee’s report.

“The business specified in this notice shall be the only business before the Senate during the special sitting,” Lusaka said in the notice.

During the proceedings, the governor dismissed allegations by MCAs that his wife Kheira Omar Maalim had taken over the running of the county and that she was involved in siphoning millions of shillings from county coffers through dubious tenders.

County Secretary Abdullahi Maalim said the County Government of Wajir had established a fully functional County Executive Committee, which is constituted of the governor, his deputy and other members appointed by the governor with the approval of the Assembly.

“All the county Executive authority is vested in and exercised by Wajir County Executive Committee, which is charged with the mandate inter-alia, implementing county and the national legislation, managing and coordinating the functions of county administration and its department,” Maalim said in a witness statement in defense of the governor.

Supreme leader

Maalim said the governor’s wife is not a member of the county executive and as such, she does not participate in the meetings and decision making by the County Executive Committee.

“No iota of evidence has been adduced to demonstrate that the governor’s wife runs the affairs of the county government of Wajir,” Maalim added.

But the MCAs argued that the governor only rubber-stamps decisions unilaterally taken by his spouse based on her own wishes and judgment without due regard to any law.

“It is open secret in Wajir County and far beyond its borders that Mrs. Kheira Omar is the ‘supreme’ leader of the County and it is always her way or the highway,” the impeachment motion sponsored by Elnur/Tulatula MCA Abdullahi Issack reads.

The MCAs also accuse the county chief of acting in abuse of power and authority by changing Chief Officer in the Finance department six times within two years.

They claimed that the high turnover was intended to distort institutional memory and facilitate plunder of public resources.

No limit

“The unpredictability of the tenure of the office which is now largely dependent on the constantly changing mood and liking of the governor’s wife has eroded public confidence in the critical department of the County treasury,” the County Assembly said.

But the governor said the allegations were false and designed to mislead the Senate. He said he had only re-assigned the Chief Officers in the department of finance only four times and not six as alleged.

“The number of reshuffles of chief officers that the governor can make during his term in the office is not limited by any law. The governor can indeed make as many reshuffles as he deems fit,” the county secretary said.

According to him, the reshuffles were made in good faith with the sole view of enhancing service delivery to residents.

“In any event, none of the reshuffled chief officers in the department finance has ever lodged any complaint of victimisation or discrimination in the course of their reshuffles,” he argued.

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