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Waititu's woes deepen as residents now initiate process to oust him

Kiambu Governor Ferdinand Waititu (right) during the hearing of an appeal case in which he was seeking court orders to access office. The picture was taken on September 18, 2019, at the Supreme Court in Nairobi. [David Njaaga, Standard]

The woes facing embattled Kiambu Governor Ferdinand Waititu seem far from over after a lobby kicked-off a drive to collect signatures to kick him from office.

The exercise dubbed ''Okoa Kiambu'', launched on Wednesday seeks to collect the signatures which will eventually lead to a petition to kick-out the governor, should it sail through in the county assembly.

The coordinator of the lobby Mr Hoswell Kinuthia said their move has been informed by the decision of the court to bar Waititu from office due to an ongoing corruption case against him.

Speaking after launching the exercise in Kiambu town, Kinuthia claimed the governor had allegedly failed in Chapter 6 of the Constitution and the Leadership and Integrity ACT after being charged in court with corruption.

He added the county was now almost grounding to halt as far as service delivery is concerned due to the absence of the governor.

 “Things are bad on the ground. The hospitals have no medicine and key services are not being given out. Things cannot continue like this. A solution must be found quickly to seal the loophole created by the power vacuum,” said Kinuthia.

The coordinator said the group is targeting to collect 200,000 signatures in all the 60 wards in the county after which they will take the petition to the county assembly for debate and consideration.

“We have so far collected about 50,000 signatures and it is our hope that our petition will see the light of the day once we take it to the county assembly. We are appealing to our Members of County Assembly (MCAs) to support the petition once it comes to the assembly for the sake of the people, “he said.

Wanja Wagichungumwa, another lobby member called on residents to turn up in large numbers and append their signatures on the petition.

Kiambu residents sign a petition being spearheaded Okoa Kiambu lobby which is collecting signatures to kick-out Governor Ferdinand Waititu. The lobby is targeting to collect 200,000 signatures that are tied to a petition that they seek to take to the county assembly for the impeachment of Waititu. [Kamau Maichuhie, Standard]

She said residents cannot be made to wait until the case facing Waititu to be completed so that he can come back to the office.

“We do not know how long the case facing the governor will take. It may take five or more years and during all this time we need service delivery and development. It is now almost three years since we went to the last election and nothing much to show on the ground in terms of development,” she said.

Waititu has been out of office after he was charged in July with six counts over Sh588 million irregular tender.

The governor was charged alongside his wife Susan Wangari Ndung’u, six other Kiambu County officials and a businessman for conspiracy to defraud the county Sh588 million through irregular road tender.

Anti-corruption Court Chief Magistrate Lawrence Mugambi released the governor on Sh15 million cash bail. His wife was released on a cash bail of Sh4 million.

Mr Mugambi also ordered the governor to stay away from his office and to deposit all his travel documents in court.

The orders by the magistrate came hot on heel two weeks after Justice Mumbi Ngugi ruled that just like other civil servants, governors should step aside once charged with criminal offences and their roles taken over by their deputies for the duration of the trial.

Deputy Governor Dr James Nyoro has been the acting governor since the court barred his boss from office.

However, his bid to run the county has been facing obstacles since he does not have the executive powers.

Nyoro is facing a petition filed at the Constitution and Human Rights Division in Nairobi by a resident Bernard Chege Mburu who is seeking to have him barred for exercising executive authority in Waititu's absence.

He has however filed a cross-petition in court detailing why the court ought to grant him the executive powers to run the county.

He says Article 179 (5) read with Article 259(3) of the Constitution empowers him to exercise all the powers of the governor.

“Section 32(4) of the County Governments Act does not bar an acting governor from re-assigning members of the CEC,” Nyoro says in the suit documents.

The deputy governor argues the law empowers him as the acting governor empowered to nominate, appoint, re-assign or dismiss the relevant County officials.

Nyoro in the suit documents say the petitioner is not guided by good faith.

He argues the executive authority of the county is vested in and exercised by a county executive committee and since the county government is a body corporate that exercises constitutional functions, the absence of any of its members including the governor does not negate its capacity to exercise powers and discharge functions.

He is, therefore, seeking the court to issue a declaration saying as acting governor, he is empowered by the law to exercise all the powers and perform all the functions of the office of Governor of Kiambu County.