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Senate to decide fate of Wajir Governor Mohamed Abdi

NATIONAL
By Moses Nyamori | May 17th 2021
Wajir Governor Mohamud Abdi during his impeachment debate at Senate chambers last week. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

Embattled Wajir Governor Mohamed Abdi Mohamud will today know whether Senate will save him from impeachment or end his tenure as county boss.

The Senate has convened a special sitting this afternoon to consider a report by an 11-member team on the proposed ouster of the governor following conclusion of an impeachment trial on Thursday.

Sources within the committee yesterday said they were yet to conclude writing the report, but indicated that its recommendations will be ready ahead of the session.

“The business to be transacted at the sitting shall be the consideration of the report of the Special Committee on the proposed removal from office of the Governor of Wajir County,” said Speaker Ken Lusaka in a gazette notice.

The Wajir County Assembly has linked Mohamud’s wife, Khaire Omar, daughter Farhiya Mohamed and son Yusuf Mohamed to alleged irregular multi-million shilling contracts that formed the basis of his impeachment. Also at the heart of the impeachment probe is businessman Osman Abdi Jimale, who has been linked to several companies that have allegedly continued to win lucrative county tenders.

The Assembly alleged a link between the governor and Jimale, whom they claimed had been paid Sh305,447,589 by the Executive when there were unpaid pending bills from 2017. An attempt by the committee chaired by Nyamira Senator Okongó Omogeni to have the businessman appear for cross-examination failed after they could not get hold of him and serve him with summons.

Should the committee recommend his removal from office, senators will take a vote to either adopt or reject the recommendations. But in the event that the committee dismisses the case by the MCAs, then there would be no further debate on the matter in the plenary. In their closing remarks, the Assembly pleaded with the Senate committee to consider its evidence and uphold the impeachment of the governor while the county boss urged the team to dismiss the case as it does not meet the required threshold of his removal.

Senior counsel Ahmednassir Abdulahi, representing the Assembly, said that there was enough evidence that the “governor, wife and children have had their hands competing in the cookie jar”.

“My prayer is that this committee will call these people to order. Misuse of public funds, wasteful expenditure, unaccounted expenditure and outright theft are all gross violation of the Constitution,” said Ahmednassir.

The senior counsel described the involvement of the family as a complex web that allowed the governor’s wife to allegedly take kickbacks with a view to award contracts to a number of companies.

“She also took similar bribes and kickbacks when payments were due and this she did with the support of the governor. Governor Mohamud allowed to share his executive power with his spouse in complete contravention of the constitution,” said Ahmednassir.

But lawyers representing the governor described the case as ‘miserable’ and asked the team not to be persuaded to save the case that has no leg and has failed to demonstrate why the governor should be held liable. Lawyer Ndegwa Njiru said the Senate should not rely on bank statements provided by the Assembly as evidence linking the governor’s family to companies that traded with the county since the MCAs did not disclose source of the document.

The MCAs had presented bank statements of the governor’s spouse to demonstrate claims of kickbacks by companies that won tenders with the county, by showing how directors of some of the companies wired money to the account of the first lady after winning contracts or after receiving payments.

Ndegwa also said that there was no proof that Khaire chaired meetings by the county executive after the MCAs failed to provide minutes of such engagements. Witnesses by the Assembly admitted that some of the meetings were informal and took place at the governor’s private home.

“Impeachment is a process with a serious political consequence. It was alleged that the First Lady was involved in the running of the county. Was there any evidence? The witness testified that they went for an informal meeting. If they went for an informal meeting the governor cannot be held into account,” he said in his closing remarks. 

 

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