Five governors have survived MCAs' impeachment motions

Embu Governor Martin Wambora. [Joseph Muchiri/Standard]

Five governors have in the past survived impeachment motions on technicality and lack of sufficient evidence.

Of the five attempts to send the county bosses home by MCAs, the Senate upheld only that of Embu Governor Martin Wambora. He, too, served his first term shielded by court orders.

Governors Mwangi wa Iria (Murang’a), Paul Chepkwony (Kericho), Granton Samboja (Taita Taveta) and the late Nderitu Gachagua (Nyeri) all survived their ouster plot.

The Senate’s decision to impeach Mr Wambora was overturned by the Court of Appeal that ruled there was no clear evidence that the governor acted in gross violation of the Constitution.

The past experience paints a picture of a rigorous process that has seen embattled governors make a comeback.

Wambora, for instance, survived two impeachment motions in 2014.

In February 2014, Embu MCAs voted to impeach the governor for violating the Public Procurement and Disposal Act, Public Finance Management Act and the Constitution.

First attempt

The High Court, however, quashed the first attempt on grounds that a court order that halted the exercise was ignored.

Wambora was accused of flouting the County Government Act by appointing public servants without the assembly's approval, purchasing Sh35 million maize seeds, illegally procuring vehicles and authorising the renovation of Embu Stadium.

Another impeachment by the assembly was effected in April and resolutions forwarded to the Senate.

A total of 40 senators backed the ouster bid only for appellate judges John Mwera, Hannah Okwengu and GBM Kariuki to nullify the decision.

And in 2015, Governor Iria was impeached after 35 MCAs voted to send him home on grounds of misusing county cash, failing to manage the county’s debt, gross misconduct and abuse of office.

This decision was, however, reversed by the Senate that ruled that the charges did not meet the constitutional threshold for impeachment.

During the impeachment hearings, the governor’s defence team had persuaded a Senate committee to terminate the proposed impeachment on the grounds that the county assembly had not followed the constitutional provisions in initiating and adopting the impeachment motion.

Wa Iria’s lawyer Ng’ang’a Mbugua had argued that the process was unconstitutional and premature.

He told the 11-member committee that the county assembly violated all the provisions for impeachment in moving the motion by not giving the governor an opportunity to be heard.

The lawyer claimed the MCAs had ill intentions and argued that the governor became a target after he refused to sign into law an unconstitutional bill that would have seen each ward representative control Sh20m in development funds

In 2014, governor Chepkwony followed the same path when he was also impeached.

Thirty-two MCAs approved the motion to oust the governor on accusations of abuse of office and unlawfully procurement of goods and services.

The governor was also accused of violating the law on recruiting personnel and failing to follow due process regarding public and private partnerships.

Three charges

He, however, survived the impeachment after the Senate committee investigating him cleared him of all three charges.

In Nyeri, Gachagua (now deceased) was ousted when MCAs voted in September 2016 to impeach him. But he survived the impeachment after senators rejected all the charges brought against him, saying the charges did not meet the threshold for impeachment.

And last year, governor Samboja was impeached by MCAs, but survived at the Senate. A report tabled by the Senate committee, which was chaired by Njeru Ndwiga (Embu), found the particulars of the allegations against the governor did not meet the threshold for impeachment.