Taita Taveta County Assembly lays case against Governor Granton Samboja
SEE ALSO :How five governors survived ouster bidsMr Ndwiga yesterday confirmed that the team had retreated to write the report in readiness for its tabling in the House today. “We want to finish with this business tomorrow (today) before the House breaks for recess. We are currently writing our report and it will be ready by tomorrow afternoon when we will table it and have senators make a decision on the same,” he said. The county assembly laid out its case against Mr Samboja, and urged the Senate committee to find that there were sufficient grounds to necessitate the governor’s removal from office through an impeachment. Samboja, however, opted not to take part in the impeachment proceedings before the Senate, which meant the MCAs went on record with their accusations against the county boss unchallenged. And with the evidence going without a rebuttal, the county assembly, through lawyer Charles Njenga, asked the special committee to find that there was both substance and merit in its memorandum to warrant the impeachment of the governor. The MCAs have accused Samboja of misappropriating county funds in contravention of the Public Finance Management Act, and failing to submit to the County Assembly an annual report on the implementation status of county policies and plans as required by the County Government Act. He is also accused of failing to remit statutory deductions, notably National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) contributions, with Mr Njenga saying Samboja had failed to remit Sh38 million, a move that prompted nurses to strike. But it is the current stand-off over the budget between the assembly and the Executive that forms the bulk of accusations against Samboja, with the MCAs accusing the governor of misleading the public over the stalemate, in contravention of Public Officer Ethics and Article 260 of the Constitution. Njenga told the committee that the governor had been incurring expenditure for projects that had not been budgeted for, and therefore not approved by the county assembly. He gave the example of the purchase of a drilling rig, which he said was never budgeted for. “There is also the issue of the formation of unwanted task forces, drawing expenditure from public coffers, yet the same had not been budgeted for. Besides, what one of these task forces was tasked to do was to look into the issues of pending bills, a matter that was already under probe by the Auditor General,” added Njenga. The assembly also faulted the governor for the purchase of a county grader, saying the same was done through the Roads Maintenance Levy and should not have been expended from county funds. Samboja was additionally accused of increasing the allocation for hiring casual workers from Sh33 million to Sh274 million, with the assembly saying the justifications given for this were not convincing. “The assembly requested that he gives specific justifications for such a substantial increase in the budget line that caused a stalemate in passage of the budget .... Instead, he went misleading the public that it was the assembly that refused to pass the budget, inciting them against the MCAs,” said Njenga. The assembly also accused the governor of failing to deliver the annual State of the County Address as required by law, and failing to put in place county structures, such as ward administrators and sub-county administrators. Earlier, Samboja, through his lawyer Nelson Havi, had indicated to the committee that he would not be taking part in the Senate’s proceedings as he had filed a case in court challenging his impeachment, and it had also injuncted the Senate against its proceedings. Moved to court Mr Havi told the committee that the governor had not been given a chance to be heard during the proceedings at the county assembly, and neither was he served with the particulars of the allegations, which is why he moved to court. But Njenga told the committee that there were no requirements at the county assembly to have the governor defend himself, saying this liberty is only granted in law when the matter is before the Senate. He agreed that Samboja was not called before the county assembly. Asked by Kericho Senator Aaron Cheruiyot if there were any efforts to reconcile the parties at the county level, Njenga said there were mediation efforts driven by religious leaders that Samboja snubbed.
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