LSK, Transparency International in court over Ferdinand Waititu's appointment to chair Nairobi Rivers Commission

Former Kiambu Governor Ferdinand Waititu follows proceedings at Milimani Court on July 6, 2022, during the hearing of a corruption case facing him, his wife Susan Wangari and others: Rights groups have sued to reverse his appointment as the chairman of the Nairobi Rivers Commission. [Collins Kweyu, Standard]

Former Kiambu Governor Ferdinand Waititu's impeachment has come back to haunt him with lawyers and human rights bodies challenging his appointment as the chair of Nairobi Rivers Commission.

Law Society of Kenya (LSK) and Transparency International (TI) in their petition filed before High Court judge Hedwig Ong'undi argue that Waititu is not eligible to hold public office as he was removed from office for misconduct.

on December 1,2022, President William Ruto appointed nine members to the commission whose mandate is to reclaim Nairobi rivers.

He tasked Pamela Olet, Mumo Musuva, Grace Senewa, Eva Muhia, Elizabeth Wathuti, Carlota Dal Lago, Elijah Biama, Duncan Ojwang and Waititu to steer the commission whose mandate is to clean rivers and reclaim grabbed riparian land.

However, LSK and TI lawyers Gichohi Waweru and Kelvin Mogeni argue that although President Ruto's decision was noble, their only issue is that Waititu is unfit to hold office, and that to date, the decision has not been reversed by any court of law.

Gichohi and Mogeni aver that Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) has failed in its duty to ensure that only those who meet ethical standards are appointed to public offices.

"The third respondent (EACC) has failed to supervise the implementation of Chapter Six of the Constitution and the Leadership and Integrity Act thereto, thereby allowing for the appointment of the first Respondent notwithstanding his removal from office and unsuitability to hold public or state office in the premise," argue the lawyers.

In the case, the court heard that Waititu's then deputy James Nyoro assumed the office as a governor for the remainder of the term, and the same was not challenged or reversed by the court.

"The first respondent (Waititu) did not challenge the said impeachment and vacated office and his (was) role taken over by then Deputy Governor; sworn in as Governor days later and served to his end of term," the lawyers added.

Also enjoined in the suit are the Attorney-General, EACC and Nairobi Rivers Commission.

In her supporting affidavit, LSK chief executive officer Florence Muturi told the court that Waititu was impeached over gross violation of the Constitution, crimes under the national law and abuse of office.

She was of the view that it is settled in law, practise and norms that once removed from office, by impeachment for violation of the Constitution, one ceases indefinitely to enjoy the right to be appointed into any state office or become a public officer.

Ms. Muturi stated: " Kenyans wanted the provisions on leadership and integrity to have a substantive bite and not be mere suggestions. They intended that the provisions be implemented and enforced. They desired that these collective commitments to ensure good governance be put into practice. The chapter was informed by Kenya's history of abuse of office by state officers to enrich self, family and friends with abandon."

According to her, President Ruto's appointment of Waititu flies in the face of constitutionalism and does not meet the ethical baselines for state officers. She further argued that the court has to stop Waititu from holding any public office.

"We as the petitioners, take issue with the appointment of Ferdinand Clifford Ndungu Waititu Babayao, the first respondent herein, who was removed from office by impeachment by the County Assembly of Kiambu, a decision upheld by the Senate of Kenya on January 9, 2020, and not contested by the first respondent," states Muturi.