Siaya Deputy Government William Oduol survived impeachment after a Senate plenary vote cleared him on Monday this week. A vote taken on the report presented to the Senate by the Senate Special Committee recommending Mr Oduol’s impeachment resulted in 27 senators from Kenya Kwanza opposing the recommendation and 16 from Azimio supporting it.
Oduol had earlier been impeached by all 42 MCAs making up the Siaya County Assembly over allegations of corruption and abuse of office. Procedurally, the impeachment of a governor or deputy governor has to be reviewed by the Senate, which either approves, or rejects it based on the evidence adduced.
To date, four governors Mwangi wa Iria (Muranga), Nderitu Gachagua (Nyeri), Granton Samboja (Taita Taveta) and Paul Chepkwony(Kericho) have been saved from impeachment by the Senate. Martin Wambora (Embu) is the only governor whose impeachment in 2014 was upheld by the Senate.
Oduol might have escaped the unenviable distinction of being the first deputy governor whose impeachment was upheld by the Senate, but being absolved raises questions on the commitment of the Kenya Kwanza government to fight the vices of impunity, abuse of office and corruption.
Four charges were leveled against Oduol, two of which were proven by the Special Senate Committee on the basis of evidence adduced. The committee found that Oduol tried to interfere with procurement processes and deliberately misled the public on circumstances around the resignation of County Secretary Joseph Ogutu.
The Senate Special Committee went through the evidence before it thoroughly and one wonders why it was necessary to waste time and money on the special committee when all that was needed was a plenary vote to decide Oduol’s fate.
The recommendation by the Senate's special committee was ignored and buried under simmering political and ideological differences between Kenya Kwanza and Azimio political divides that have placed the country on a warpath.
A Kenya Kwanza senator later confided in the media that they were under instruction from to save Oduol at whatever cost. Worse, Nandi Senator Samson Cheragei threw aspersions on the competence of the select committee by declaring that “the Senate will not be used as a ground to sanitise or process political disputes”.
The Senate’s verdict on Oduol sends the wrong message; that impunity and abuse of office can be tolerated and defended if they were politically beneficial to Kenya Kwanza. The Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission should step in and conduct further investigations to ascertain the truth that is at risk of being buried under political expediency and unhealthy competition between the government and the Opposition.
It defeats logic when legislators' decisions on important matters are driven by political vendatta rather than what is right and just.