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Senators to determine Waititu’s fate today

By Rawlings Otieno and Roselyne Obala | Jan 29th 2020 | 3 min read
Kiambu Governor Ferdinand Waititu (second left) with his lawyers leave after impeachment proceedings at the Senate. [Boniface Okendo, Standard]

The Senate votes today on whether to keep Kiambu Governor Ferdinand Waititu in office or send him home. 

Senators yesterday heard how Mr Waititu influenced award of county tenders worth millions of shillings to his wife and three daughters during day-long impeachment proceedings.

The Senate was told that although the county assembly approved road contracts worth Sh1.4 billion in the 2018-19 financial year, the county government awarded Sh2.1 billion worth of tenders. 

“The purpose of the irregular awards was not to provide public roads but to enable the governor obtain personal benefits through kickbacks,” Ndenderu Member of County Assembly (MCA) Solomon Kinuthia told the Senate.

In his witness statement, Mr Kinuthia, who successfully moved the motion to impeach the governor in the county assembly last year, said Mr Waititu exhibited gross misconduct contrary to the Public Procurement and Disposal Act in influencing the award of the lucrative tenders to companies associated with his relatives. He also accused the governor of conflict of interest.

The governor’s wife, Susan Wangari Ndung’u, a sole director in Suwanga Limited, got a tender for the construction of Kiambu matatu terminus, Kinuthia stated in the statement tabled in the Senate.

Connex Logistics Africa Limited, whose director is Wangari, also got a tender to supply tyres.

Modiba Management Services Limited, whose director is Monica Njeri Ndungu, a daughter of the governor, was awarded a contract to supply tyres.

Beedee Management Services Limited associated with his other daughter Diana Wangoko Ndungu was given a contract to supply garbage skips.

Bins Management Services Limited, where Waititu’s daughter Ruth Mumbi Ndungu and John Mwangi Kimani are listed as directors, was given a tender to supply assorted items including first aid kits, water supply pipes and garbage collection protective equipment.

The governor also faces an abuse of office charge as he is accused of forcibly dispossessing a widow, Cecilia Njoki Mbugua, of two prime plots within Thika municipality.

Waititu is alleged to have promptly facilitated the irregular transfer of the two plots on January 2, 2018, to Mrs Esther Wamuyu Nyatu, a common law wife and mother of the children of the governor.

Kinuthia cited a verdict by the Commission on Administrative Justice (CAJ) compelling the governor to surrender the property.

While being cross-examined, Eric Kiriko, Kiambu Deputy Governor James Nyoro’s legal advisor, disclosed that he wrote to CAJ, commonly referred to Ombudsman, inquiring about the matter.

“I wanted to know what the issue with the governor was. The Ombudsman gave recommendation that the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions to probe the matter,” Mr Kiriko told Waititu’s lawyer Nga’ng’a Mbugua.

The charges against the county boss touch on breach of the Constitution and subsidiary laws, irregular hiring of staff and gross violation financial and procurement laws.

The governor pleaded not guilty to the charges read by Clerk Jeremiah Nyegenye, saying he was a victim of political witch-hunt.

Waititu sat pensively in the Senate chamber as Kinuthia, the county assembly witness, defended his impeachment motion that could end his career as governor before 2022 polls.

Kinuthia told the senators that he moved the motion to impeach Waititu on what he argued as gross violation of the Constitution, the County Governments Act, 2012, the Public Finance Management Act, 2012 and the Public Procurement and Disposal Act, 2005.

In his preliminary objections, Waititu accused the MCAs of denying him an opportunity to state his case.

“I sent my two lawyers to represent me because I feared humiliation and a shouting match. They were denied a chance despite staying the whole day,” he said.

Given justice

He also questioned the procedure from the time the MCAs mooted the impeachment.

“The threshold for impeachment is two thirds. The assembly has 92 MCAs meaning 62 are required to pass the motion. Those who were in the House were 57 and one opposed,” the governor said.

He added that the motion should be considered within 14 days and correspondence to the Senate within two days, yet this was not the case.

“However bad I may look, I should be given justice. The law guarantees everyone fair hearing and judgment. In 2022, some of the senators will be governors and you will find yourselves in the dock where I am today (yesterday),” Waititu pleaded with the senators.

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