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More woes for Nyeri Governor Nderitu Gachagua as MPs storm his office

COUNTIES
By Allan Mungai and Job Weru | September 6th 2016

Anti-riot police were yesterday evening deployed to guard Governor Nderitu Gachagua's office after three MPs and MCAs stormed it. The police, led by OCPD Makau Masai, were informed that MPs Kabando wa Kabando (Mukurweini), Kanini Kega (Kieni) and Peter Weru (Mathira) had stormed the offices and addressed workers.

Police found the MPs addressing journalists outside the office leading to heated exchanges with the law enforcers.

"Who has sent you and which law are you enforcing?" Mr Kabando roared.

Mr Masai had a hard time explaining that they had been informed that the leaders stormed Mr Gachagua's offices, with Kabando and Kega claiming he was no longer the governor.

"Which governor are you referring to? It should be the impeached governor," Kabando said.

The leaders had earlier visited Karson House, a rental facility that houses the Nyeri County Government offices, before marching to Town Hall, the office of the governor. Workers in the offices were caught off guard but the MPs addressed them and assured them of job security.

Mobilise thousands

"We came here to confirm that the governor is not in the office. If he comes, tell him we will mobilise thousands of Nyeri residents to remove him from the office," Kabando said.

The leaders claimed that the county government spent Sh40 million in 2013 to renovate two floors at Karson House, which houses government offices.

Earlier in the day, the leaders met at Outspan Hotel where they warned Senator Mutahi Kagwe against using his powers in the Senate to clear the governor, saying the grounds raised by MCAs were strong and showed public funds had been plundered.

In addition to his political woes, Gachagua had earlier in the day lost a court bid to stop the Senate from deliberating over the impeachment motion passed by the County Assembly last Friday. His lawyers were at the High Court in Nyeri yesterday seeking ex-parte orders to stop the process until the matter was heard and determined.

But Justice John Mativo only certified the matter as urgent and urged the lawyers to serve the Senate and the County Assembly before the matter was heard inter-partes on September 12. Gachagua's fate now lies with the Senate, which is expected to start discussing the matter after being served with the County Assembly proceedings.

Things got murkier after Nyeri MPs supported the impeachment bid yesterday, saying Gachagua had failed to live up to expectations.

In court yesterday, his lawyers, Issa Mansur, Peter Wanyama and Fred Ngatia, filed a notice of motion under a certificate of urgency seeking conservatory orders to stay the implementation of the decision by the MCAs to impeach him.

"After going through the application, I'm persuaded that the application has sufficiently demonstrated it is urgent. The application is admitted for hearing on a priority basis," Justice Mativo ruled. "The petitioners are directed to serve the respondents with the application for inter-parte hearing on September 12," he added.

In the application, Gachagua is seeking orders to restrain the Senate from taking action against him on the motion to impeach him passed last Friday by 32 MCAs. His lawyers argued that the whole process was flawed and effectively infringed on Gachagua's right to hold public office.

Mr Wanyama said the notice of motion forwarded to Gachagua on August 26 did not contain documentation showing that at least a third of the MCAs had verified the grounds for his impeachment. It is Gachagua's argument that the allegations only contained the signature of Baragu Mutahi, who moved the motion to impeach him.

His lawyers relied on precedents set by the High court and Court of Appeal during the impeachment of Embu Governor Martin Wambora. Despite the two courts' unanimous finding that impeachments were quasi-judicial in nature, Wanyama said, the governor was not given a hearing.

"The rules of natural justice and fair administrative action must be observed," he submitted.

On Friday, Gachagua's lawyers were turned away from the County Assembly grounds while the impeachment motion was being debated as they attempted to table evidence to oppose the allegations. Gachagua contends that he was not given any document to support the allegations against him during the entire impeachment process despite numerous requests.

He further submitted that the MCAs did not conduct any form of public participation. During Mr Wambora's case, the Court of Appeal said public participation was compulsory during the impeachment process.

Tension was high in Nyeri town after groups of boda boda riders chanting pro-Gachagua slogans and waving banners intercepted the leaders along the way. The riders barricaded the Nyeri-Kamakwa road as they booed the MPs and MCAs, forcing the leaders to negotiate their way to the next venue.

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