Why Justice Onyiego turned down call to swear in Nyoro

Friday, January 31st, 2020 00:00 |
Some political leaders allied to Kiambu Deputy Governor James Nyoro (centre) led by Limuru MP Peter Mwathi (left) and Kiambu Woman Rep Gathoni Wamuchomba (second, left) address the media at Kiambu county Assembly, yesterday. Photo/PD/GERALD ITHANA

Clement Kamau and Irene Githinji

The High Court judge, who had been appointed by Chief Justice David Maraga to swear in Kiambu Deputy Governor James Nyoro yesterday following the impeachment of Governor Ferdinand Waititu, said he declined the invitation because he would be committing an illegality.

Justice John Onyiego said the ceremony, which had already been organised at the county headquarters in Kiambu town, violated the Assumption of the Office of Governor Act, which dictates that swearing in should take place on the first Thursday after the tenth day.

The much-anticipated to swearing-in Nyoro as the third governor of Kiambu, was postponed over what the County Assembly Speaker Stephen Ndicho, who had requested Maraga to assign a judge for the occasion, said was legal issues.

About law

 Onyiego was expected to preside over the ceremony at 8am, according to a press invitation by the Judiciary, but in a statement to the newsroom later in the evening said he would not have participated in an illegality.

“The county committee on Assumption of the Office of Governor’s office has not complied with Section 11 (1) of the Act, which requires publication and notification of the swearing-in ceremony in the Kenya Gazette and the County Gazette stating the time, date, place of swearing in… Section 11 (2) requires the Governor to be sworn in on the first Thursday after the tenth day following the declaration of results on the governor,” said Onyiego.

Though the Assumption of the Office of Governor Act which was drafted by Kiambu Senator Kimani Wamatangi to guide the procedure of assumption of office by governor-elect, provides for modification to suit situations, Onyiego said it was not done in the Nyoro case.

“In view of the fact that the two provisions have not been complied with, the swearing ceremony has been suspended and the County Secretary is hereby advised to ensure that a committee is established pursuant to Sections 3 and 5 of the Act and a resolution is passed in compliance with Section 11 of the said Act,” the judge said.

The committee, according to the Act, should be chaired by County Secretary and comprises of county principal legal adviser, Chief Officers in the department of public service, information and communication, public works, roads and transport as well as finance.

 County Commissioner, County Commander, Clerk of the County Assembly, two persons nominated by the governor-elect will also be part of the committee.

There was confusion as Kiambu Woman Rep Gathoni wa Muchomba and politician Denis Waweru announced that the swearing-in would go on despite the absence of a judge.

“We must swear Nyoro in whether they like it or not. We shall engage a lawyer to do it’, said Waweru.

Gathoni claimed the judge was taking them in circles and that his absence was deliberate. “Corruption is fighting back and we won’t put up with it no matter what,” she added.

As time progressed, a group of politicians left the county headquarters ostensibly to go and frogmarch the judge back to the premises.

Nyoro while addressing the press said  he had no objection to the postponement, adding that the law must be followed.

“The reason we are here is because law was not followed by the immediate former governor and hence we have to follow the law strictly because two wrongs can’t make a right’, he said.

He blamed the mishap on the County Government Act which he said failed to anticipate a situation of what should be done after the impeachment of a governor.

Assume office

“We have been having a lacuna in Kiambu for the past six months because the law does not give a deputy governor express directives to assume office as soon as a governor is impeached,” he said.

Elgeyo Marakwet Senator Kipchumba Murkomen questioned why the process to swear-in Nyoro was being done in a haste.

“A High Court judge cannot preside over swearing-in of DG of Kiambu to be a Governor before 10 days are over and before they Gazette the date, time and place for conducting the swearing in Ceremony.

But you know what? Everything is working like a clock in the new Kenya,” Murkomen posted on his twitter account.

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