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Impeachment threshold has been abused- governors

POLITICS
By Brian Otieno | May 22nd 2021
Governors Patrick Khaemba,  Alex Tolgos and Sospeter Ojamong before addressing the media at their offices in Nairobi.[Elvis Ogina,Standard]

Governors have cried foul over increased impeachment motions against them by Members of the County Assemblies and upheld by the Senate, even as they called for fair trial.

The Council of Governors (CoG) also lamented over the threshold of impeaching governors, saying that oversight bodies had watered it down.

In a statement read by CoG vice-chairperson James Ongwae, the governors said they would seek to establish the right threshold for impeaching county bosses.

They said the threshold of removing other holders of public office such as MPs and those of the County Assembly was seemingly higher than that of governors.

“The threshold for the impeachment of governors is becoming lower. We are getting into situations where procedural and administrative duties that don’t fall under the governor are actually impeachable,” he said.

The current process, they claimed, is political and had turned governors into victims of their respective county assemblies and the Senate. "Oversight bodies must remain cognizant of the legal principles surrounding impeachment so that the exercise is not abused," said the Kisii governor.

They said they would seek to be enjoined in the case by former Wajir Governor Mohamed Abdi Mohamud challenging his removal.

Yesterday, it also emerged that Mohamud and the sworn-in Governor Ahmed Ali Muktar addressed the extraordinary CoG meeting separately and gave their account of happenings in the county.

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While Muktar joined the meeting virtually, Mohamud was physically present at CoG headquarters at Delta House, Nairobi. Both were then excused to allow the council members to deliberate on the matter as each argued that they were legally in office, one through a court order and the other through a gazette notice by Senate Speaker Ken Lusaka, after a successful impeachment process. 

The Sunday Standard has learnt that the county bosses will move to court this week to seek an interpretation on what happens as well as the threshold for impeaching governors.

While protesting what they termed a worrisome trend, the CoG cited the impeachment of former governors Mike Sonko (Nairobi) and Ferdinand Waititu (Kiambu) as other instances where governors have seemingly been persecuted.

"While we appreciate the fact that impeachment is both legal and a political process, the rule of law should prevail while undertaking the same," said Ongwae.

He disclosed, “The council shall engage relevant institutions with a view to streamlining court pronouncements with the law so that the impeachment process can be anchored in legitimacy and impartiality."

The county chiefs underscored the need for all bodies involved to be guided by the Constitution and principles laid down by the courts on the threshold of impeachment.

The governors claimed MCAs have turned into 'lynch mobs' and sent three governors home, while one survived as other mooted the same, just this year.

"The council assures the public that it values integrity and accountability in the running of public affairs in the counties. Nevertheless, oversight bodies must remain cognizant of the legal principles surrounding impeachment so that the excise is not abused," urged CoG.

"The council shall engage relevant institutions with a view to streamlining court pronouncement with the law so that impeachment process can be anchored in legitimacy and impartially."

He was in the company of Sospeter Ojaamong (Busia), Patrick Khaemba (Trans Nzoia) and Alex Tolgos (Elgeyo Marakwet).

They spoke after a virtual conference called to deliberate county issues. The CoG is expected to meet next week to deliberate on the matter further.

Their address comes days after CoG chairman Martin Wambora termed Mohamud’s impeachment and his deputy’s takeover rushed.

The former Wajir boss moved to court a day after Senate okayed his removal from office, as initiated by the Wajir County Assembly. The new Wajir governor was sworn in despite a court order that barred the same.

Senate found him to have grossly violated the constitution, which was one of the charges he faced before the august House. It acquitted him on a charge of abuse of office.

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