October 22nd 2017

Top Stories / National

Why impeachment of Nyeri Governor is still a long way from conclusion

Over 30 of the MCAs, fearing kidnapping just before the vote, opted to spend Thursday night at the County Assembly chambers in preparation for the impeachment motion against Gachagua.

By Phillip MuleeSaturday, 03 Sep 2016 11:26 EAT

A supporter of Governor Gachagua confronts an MCA during a previous fight.

Friday’s impeachment of the Nyeri Governor Nderitu Gachagua by 32 of the 46 Members of the County Assembly (MCAs) could be an exercise in futility should it take the route taken by his Embu counterpart Martin Wambora.

Wambora who became the first governor to be impeached by the MCAs in February 2014 and the Senate sealed the deal by voting to impeach him after a special House committee found him guilty of three out of the five charges facing him.

However, Wambora is still in office after Court of Appeal dismissed an earlier ruling by the High Court in Kerugoya which had upheld the impeachment saying it had made an error in its ruling when it said that the senate and the county assembly had the final say on the governor’s fate.

Justices John Mwera, Hannah Okwengu and GBM Kariuki made a landmark 24-page ruling which stated that the governor had convinced courts that he is innocent in the allegations leveled against him.

The Nyeri MCAs should therefore not start celebrating until the process has gone its full cycle, even though they are clearly determined to see Gachagua out. Over 30 of the MCAs, fearing kidnapping just before the vote, opted to spend Thursday night at the County Assembly chambers in preparation for the impeachment motion against Governor Gachagua.

Those interviewed said the unprecedented decision was to ensure their numbers remained intact, after fearing abductions or harm to any of them. During debate on the motion, two lawyers representing Mr Gachagua were denied entry into the chambers. This could open doors for litigation measures against the breach in the impeachment process.

The lawyers, Peter Wanyama and Mansur Esar, were armed with documents containing the governor's response to the allegations levelled against him by the MCAs.

House Speaker David Mugo, through the assembly clerk, told the lawyers that the House Standing Orders did not allow the governor to be represented by a second party and that the governor should be present in person during the impeachment proceedings.

The debate on the impeachment motion started with Speaker Mugo reading the grounds for the impeachment. The motion moved by Kiganjo Ward MCA Baragu Mutahi was seconded by Karatina Ward MCA Joel Gichuru.

MCAs opposed to Mr Gachagua say the governor has sidelined them in governing the county and is not willing to answer corruption queries.

In early August, Mr Mutahi accused the governor of failing to appear before the Senate to respond to queries raised in the Auditor-General’s report on the 2013/2014 financial year.

The MCAs also accuse the governor of dictatorial leadership, alleging that he has refused to be questioned over his alleged financial improprieties.

They are also aggrieved by the Governor’s refusal to assent to the county’s 2016/2017 Finance Bill. They say Gachagua is using Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission officials to sabotage their efforts to impeach him.

Now that Gachagua has been impeached, focus would be the vote at the Senate which would uphold the MCAs' decision or reject it. Previous attempts by MCAs in Kericho to impeach their governor Paul Chepkwony were unsuccessful after the Senate rejected the governor's impeachment.

Murang'a Governor Mwangi wa Iria also survived an impeachment by the MCAs after the Senate declared that the accusations against him did not meet the threshold for impeachment.

Machakos Deputy Governor Bernard Kiala was also saved by the Senators when they dismissed his impeachment motion by the MCAs.

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