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MCAs to grill Ngilu ahead of impeachment motion

By Philip Muasya | July 13th 2020
Governor Charity Ngilu (centre) is expected to appear before the County Assembly over an impeachment motion. [Edward Kiplimo, Standard]

Kitui County Assembly has summoned Governor Charity Ngilu to answer to questions regarding her impeachment Motion, which is set for debate on Thursday.

This was after the assembly on Thursday last week received a green light from the High Court to proceed with the impeachment Motion after the Milimani court dismissed Ngilu’s application.

“This is to notify you the Motion dated June 16, 2020 calling for the removal of the governor by impeachment shall be considered by the County Assembly between July 15 and 17. I am writing to invite you to appear before the assembly on July 15, at 10am to respond to the allegations as contained in the aforementioned impeachment Motion…,” the letter addressed to the governor, which was signed by the Speaker George Ndoto, reads.

The letter was received at the governor’s office on Friday.

The invitation letter gives the governor an option of appearing in person or being represented by her legal team not exceeding two lawyers due to “space constraints” at the assembly. The lawyers will have a maximum of two hours to present their responses.

Last Thursday, Justice Weldon Korir, sitting at Milimani High Court, quashed Ngilu’s application to stop the assembly from tabling and debating the Motion to remove her from office.

In the ruling, Justice Korir said the governor’s application lacked merit and did not meet the threshold required to grant her conservatory orders. The judge also took issue with the governor’s decision to file the application in Nairobi when there was a competent High Court in Kitui.

“Impeachment of a governor is akin to an election petition. It would, therefore, be advisable that any person desirous of filing a court case in respect to an impeachment should approach a High Court within the county,” Justice Korir ruled while dismissing Ngilu’s application.

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He said this would offer the residents access to the court where such proceedings take place.

Ngilu had argued that the constitutional requirement of public participation was not met because of the outbreak of coronavirus pandemic. But in his ruling, Justice Korir said nobody knew when the pandemic would be contained, adding that new ways must be designed to achieve constitutional requirements in such matters.

“Legislative business cannot stall because of a disease that is at the moment beyond human control. Ultimately, it is the responsibility of the respondents to ensure the impeachment process meets the constitutional threshold both procedural and substantive,” the judge ruled.

Working overtime

After the court breathed a life into the impeachment Motion, the MCAs who support the governor’s removal are now working overtime to ensure they have the requisite numbers to achieve their goal. However, those from Ngilu’s Narc party are also lobbying to break the two-thirds threshold and defeat the impeachment on a technicality.

For the impeachment to succeed, it must be supported by a minimum 36 MCAs of the 54 in the assembly. The Wiper party, which has the majority number, has 30 MCAs while 12 are from Ngilu’s Narc. The rest are independents and others from smaller political parties.

About three weeks ago, there was an ugly altercation at the assembly pitting Ngilu’s legal team and the orderlies. One lawyer was injured in the fracas.

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