Members of Taita Taveta County Assembly last evening impeached Governor Granton Samboja in a dramatic escalation of their four-month hostilities.
All the 30 MCAs present voted to impeach Samboja in a special sitting convened after a Motion by Deputy Majority leader Harris Keke.
He becomes only the third governor to be impeached by their respective county assemblies after Embu Governor Martin Wambora and his Kericho counterpart Paul Chepkwony. Mr Wambora and Prof Chepkwony were, however, saved by the courts and Senate respectively.
The Motion accused Samboja of gross misconduct, violation of the law and abuse of office.
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Assembly Speaker Meshack Maghangha said he would communicate the resolution to Senate Speaker Kenneth Lusaka for further action.
But in a quick rejoinder, Samboja, through his Director of Communication Dennis Onsarigo, dismissed the move by MCAs, insisting that the governor was still in office.
"We watched on the news the purported impeachment of the governor. County assembly has an oversight role to play and has constitutional limits in playing that role. The governor is duly elected and duly in office," Mr Onsarigo said last evening.
Samboja has been at loggerheads with the assembly and has led a separate bid to dissolve the county government through a signature campaign in a dispute over the 2019/2020 budget. Their fight started after the governor refused to sign the budget in which MCAs allocated themselves Sh833 million for their wards.
The governor has disregarded efforts by the church and politicians, including Mombasa Governor Ali Hassan Joho to reconcile them. Samboja also held high profile meetings with President Uhuru Kenyatta, Opposition leader Raila Odinga and Wiper Party's Kalonzo Musyoka.
Yesterday's Motion was tabled by Deputy Majority Leader Haris Keke in a session chaired by Speaker Meshack Maganga, setting the stage for the governor's impeachment. The Speaker endorsed the Motion after it met the required threshold of two-thirds of the House. A total 25 MCAs had signed the petition to remove the governor from office.
The impeachment Motion comes after the governor withdrew his mediation team spearheaded by ACK Diocese's Bishop Liverson Mng'onda over the MCAs' threats to impeach five county executives.
Last Friday, the Executive walked out of the mediation talks to protest the threats to impeach the CEC members.
In his Motion, Mr Keke claimed Samboja had failed to submit to the county assembly an annual report on the implementation status of the county policies and plans as required by Section 30 (2) (J) of the County Government Act, 2012.
“The governor has never submitted an annual report on the implementation status of the county policies and plans as prescribed by law, thus making it difficult and almost impossible for the assembly to keep track of development agenda and service delivery in the county.
This failure has equally denied the county a common direction towards service delivery and programmes implementation in the quest to deliver the development agenda of the people of this great county since the county government achievements and aspirations cannot be ascertained,” read the Motion seen by The Standard.
“This has resulted in lack of accountability by the county executive committee members to the governor, which has led to lack of accountability framework in service delivery and non-implementation of key projects in the county, as well as non-compliant of projects that have been initiated,” read the Motion.
Keke, the Rong’e Juu Ward Representative, alleged that the governor had refused to act in accordance with the law, which is a ground for impeachment under Article 18 (10 (A) of the Constitution of Kenya, 2010.
According to the ODM legislator, the governor had failed to remit statutory deductions to the relevant institutions, including the Kenya Revenue Authority, NHIF and NSSF, contrary to the Income Tax Act Cap 470, the National Hospital Insurance Fund Act Cap 255 and the National Social Security Act Cap 258 in the laws of Kenya.
“The governor has continually and for several months failed to ensure statutory deductions from the employees’ salaries are remitted to relevant accounts.
The governor, being the CEO, has thus failed to ensure the Finance department executes the required monthly remittances upon deduction for compliance,” the Motion read.