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Great escape: Except for Waititu, other governors had the last laugh

Former Kiambu Governor Ferdinand Waititu during his questioning at the Senate in January. [File, Standard]

Four governors have survived impeachment motions at the Senate on technicalities and a lack of sufficient evidence.

It is only former Kiambu Governor Ferdinand Waititu and Embu Governor Martin Wambora’s ousters that were upheld by the House. 

In the case of Wambora, however, while senators voted to send him home, he managed to get court orders that shielded him through his first term.

But for Waititu, 28 senators early this year voted to end his reign, a move largely influenced by the handshake between President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga.

Embattled Kirinyaga Governor Anne Waiguru, whose impeachment is before the Senate, is the seventh county boss to be dragged by MCAs to the Upper House over claims of abuse of office and graft.

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

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

Wambora’s case stands out as he survived two impeachment motions in 2014.

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

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

Trail of charges

Wambora was accused of appointing public servants without the assembly’s approval, purchasing Sh35 million maize seeds irregularly, illegally procuring vehicles, and authorising the renovation of Embu Stadium.

Another impeachment by the assembly was effected in April 2014 and resolutions forwarded to the Senate. In the Senate, 40 legislators backed the ouster bid, only for Appellate judges John Mwera, Hannah Okwengu and GBM Kariuki to nullify the decision.

And in 2015, Iria was impeached after 35 MCAs voted to send him home on the 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, which ruled that the charges did not meet the constitutional threshold for impeachment.

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

In 2014, Kericho’s Chepkwony followed the same path when he was impeached. Thirty-two MCAs approved the motion to oust him on accusations of abuse of office and unlawful procurement.

The governor was also accused of violating the law on recruiting personnel and failing to follow due process on public-private partnerships. He survived the impeachment after he was cleared by the Senate committee investigating him.

In Nyeri, MCAs voted to impeach Gachagua in September 2016. He survived after senators rejected the charges against him.

And last year, Samboja was impeached by Taita Taveta MCAs, but survived at the Senate.

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