The Council of Governors to appeal ruling on office exit

Friday, August 23rd, 2019 00:00 |
Council of Governors chair Wycliffe Oparanya. Photo/PD/FILE

The Council of Governors (CoG) has said it will appeal Justice Mumbi Ngugi’s ruling that governors charged with economic crimes vacate office for the duration of their trial.

They said the ruling violated the rights of accused persons and has triggered paralysis and confusion in counties.

Addressing a press conference yesterday at the Council headquarters at Delta House, Nairobi, CoG chair Wycliffe Oparanya said the ruling infringes on the rule of natural justice that accused persons are innocent until proven guilty. “Arraigning a governor and denying him access to offices will emotionally charge the public.”

Oparanya said the court decision essentially hounded out of office Kiambu Governor Ferdinard Waititu and his Samburu counterpart Moses Kasaine.

In her July 24, ruling, Justice Ngugi said governors, just like other civil servants should stay away from the office until their cases are heard and determined. Justice Ngugi declared section 62 (6) of the Anti-Corruption and Economic Crimes Act, which State officers have been citing to remain in office as unconstitutional.

Betrayed public

The judge held that a governor cannot remain in office to serve his constituents yet he had betrayed the public trust donated to him.

Oparanya said Justice Ngugi’s ruling has thrown the affected county governments into confusion and mayhem as deputy governors jostle for powers to fill the devoid vacancy.

Case in point is Kiambu Deputy Governor James Nyoro who took over operations of the county in an acting capacity, in accordance with Article 175 (5) of the Constitution, which states that when the county governor is absent, the deputy county governor shall act as the county governor.

 “You can see what is happening in Kiambu. Now, the Deputy Governor is pretending to have taken over and wants to sack and transfer others. The law, County Governments Act is clear on what a deputy governor can do and what he cannot do,” he said.

For years, an argument has thrived that as long accused persons are treated as innocent until proven guilty, then they continue to serve to enjoy the trappings that come with power.

However, governors and other State officers were relying on Section 62 Subsection 6 of the same Act that provides: “This section does not apply with respect to an office, if the Constitution limits or provides for the grounds upon which a holder of the office may be removed or the circumstances in which the office must be vacated.”

Nevertheless, it will not be walk in the park for the governors’ lobby to overturn the ruling given that the appeals by Lenolkulal and Waititu have both flopped.

Before Justice Ngugi’s ruling, county governors would plead not guilty to a case, as it was for Busia Governor Sospeter Ojaamong, who secured release by paying cash bail and return to his official duties. But any other public officer, including Cabinet secretaries, would be suspended as soon as they were charged based on Section 62 of the Anti-Corruption and Economic Crimes Act of 2003.

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