Murang’a Governor Mwangi Wa Iria fights off ouster bid, claims mischief

Murang'a Governor Mwangi wa Iria (left) and his lawyer follow proceedings when he appeared before the Senate committee at Parliament Buildings, yesterday. [PHOTO: MOSES OMUSULA/STANDARD]

Murang’a members of the county assembly (MCAs) have started prosecuting their case against Governor Mwangi wa Iria.

They urged the Senate to find that the county chief had violated the Constitution and misappropriated resources, sufficient grounds to remove him from office.

But the governor dismissed the MCAs’ move, saying it was motivated by his decision against signing into law an unconstitutional bill that would have seen each ward representative control a Sh20 million development fund.

The assembly members disclosed 25 grounds, which they relied on to vote in support of the motion to impeach the county boss.

Through their lawyer, Mbuthi Gathenji, the MCAs urged the 11-member Senate special committee chaired by Kitui Senator David Musila to find the grounds as meeting the constitutional threshold required for a governor’s removal from office.

The accusations were mainly on the governor’s alleged abuse of office, violation of the Constitution and going against public finance management laws. The MCAs said efforts to consult Wa Iria on critical issues that had now formed the basis of his impeachment were futile as “he became arrogant, an epitome of impunity, and know-it-all. He has isolated himself.”

Through the first of the five witnesses that they had lined up to prove their case, James Benson Gakoni, the MCAs moved to convince Senate to uphold their decision and find Wa Iria guilty of gross violation of the Constitution.


But Wa Iria made spirited efforts to dismantle the MCAs’ case, accusing them of employing mischief and ulterior motives to impeach him.

The governor, through his lawyer Ng’ang’a Mbugua, said the assembly did not give him a fair chance to respond to allegations made against him and thus violated his right for a fair hearing.

“Before initiating the process, the assembly should have given the governor an opportunity to be heard. At the bare minimum, the procedure must be fair. The assembly was not fair at all,” noted Mr Mbugua.

Wa Iria claimed his troubles with the MCAs emanated from his decision against signing into law a Sh700 million Ward Development Fund to be shared among ward representatives.

“We must be alive to the fact that the mechanism of removal can be violated and it is important for Senate to tell the assembly that it cannot be allowed to abuse the process by cheating the mechanism laid down in law,” he said. It also came to the team’s notice there could have been haste to pass the resolution to impeach the governor after evidence was provided showing set timelines were not followed before the motion was carried.

The MCAs did not wait for the lapse of the seven-day period granted by the speaker on Wa Iria to respond to issues raised, before they moved the motion to impeach him.

Wa Iria produced before the team documents showing while he was served with the notice on October 15, asking him to respond within seven days, the assembly proceeded to move his impeachment on October 21, only six days later.

“Even if we were to count the two days of the weekend, and the public holiday, Jamhuri Day on October 20, as working days, the impeachment motion was moved on the sixth day, not after the seven days given to the governor. Why this haste?” posed Mbugua to Gakoni.

Gakoni, who was at pains to explain why MCAs did not wait for a week to lapse before the impeachment motion, denied allegations it was the decision to sign the bill on the Ward Development Fund that motivated their action.

In his re-examination by Gathenji, he said he was a nominated member and thus stood no chance of benefitting from the Sh700 million fund, since it was to be given to MCAs representing wards.

“I don’t have a ward I represent. I could not have been motivated by the governor’s failure to approve of the fund. I couldn’t have fought for that which I was not to benefit from,” he said.