Tension as 'two governors' stake a claim to power in Wajir

Impeached Wajir Governor Mohamed Abdi Mohamud and newly sworn-in boss Ahmed Muktar. [File, Standard]

The political tussle in Wajir County deepened after impeached Governor Mohamed Abdi Mohamud and newly sworn-in boss Ahmed Muktar both claimed to be in charge of the county government.

Muktar on Tuesday said he was legally in charge following the impeachment of his former boss – Mohamud – who separately claimed to be running the government, citing a High Court order stopping the swearing-in of the Deputy Governor.

But the order was reportedly issued after Muktar had already been sworn in. Addressing a press conference in Nairobi, Muktar and a host of elected leaders from the county led by MPs Adan Keynan (Eldas), Rashid Kassim (Wajir East), Ahmed Bashane (Tarbaj), Prof Mohamud Sheikh (Wajir South) and Ahmed Kolosh (Wajir West) said the crisis was threatening tension in the region and appealed to Mohamud “to come on board as a citizen” and support the new team.

Keynan said it was clear that the court order was in vain as it was already overtaken by events.

But speaking separately at the Council of Governors’ offices in Nairobi on Tuesday, Mohamud termed his impeachment a violation of the law, citing a court ruling that barred the process and a subsequent one blocking the swearing-in of his deputy.

“The entire findings and resolutions of the Senate to remove me from office was rendered ineffective, inapplicable and non-operational. As such everything done pursuant to the resolution of the senate including the purported swearing in of the governor as the governor of Wajir has no effect,” he said.

He further said he was ready to work with the newly sworn-in governor, saying he harboured no ill-feelings towards him or the county assembly.

“To my deputy governor, I know you as a humble person who has never shown any ill-intentions all along. I reaffirm that our relationship will remain the same as we continue to serve the great people of Wajir as mandated by law,” said Mohamud.

The beleaguered county boss said he was perturbed by the behaviour of some politicians who hurriedly conducted and officiated an illegal swearing-in ceremony in an attempt to remove a popularly elected governor from office.

Mohamud blamed his ouster on 2022 politics by a section of leaders, terming them “coup De’ tat tactics and maneuvers” citing an election petition against him in 2017 as the start of his woes.

“This proves that my purported removal was well-engineered from the beginning,” added Mohamud.

The latest tussle comes in the backdrop of a decision by the High Court in Meru to refer the petition that sought to nullify the impeachment of the embattled politician to Chief Justice Martha Koome to form a three-judge bench to determine the matter.

"It is hereby directed that the matter be heard by more than one judge ….it shall henceforth be dealt with after the Chief Justice exercises mandate under articles 165(4) of the Constitution", states the order issued on Monday.

Tuesday, Keynan fell short of blaming the High Court for issuing orders that cannot be enforced for being overtaken. “Courts have held again and again that it cannot stultify itself by making orders which cannot be enforced or grant an injunction which will be ineffective for practical purposes… the court should have declined to grant it,” said Keynan.

“It was thus clear, that the applicants in the above-mentioned case failed to inform the court, or withheld material information that as of the time the orders were being sought, Governor Ahmed Ali Muktar had been sworn in and assumed office,” he added.

Muktar said his former boss was removed from office due to his inability to offer services to the people. He said the removal was not politically engineered as claimed by the impeached county boss.

“There have been many serious issues in Wajir. Hospitals were closed, health workers were not at work. The people of Wajir faced some very small issues that any county government can handle. Ours now is to work on them and ensure they don’t happen again," Muktar said.

The pro-Muktar team also cautioned the CoG against frustrating the will of the people of Wajir who made the decision to remove their governor from office.

 There was drama at the venue of the governor’s press briefing when police wielding clubs and teargas canisters tried to eject the media from the Delta Towers premises to prevent them from covering the event.

An officer who only identified himself as a chief inspector did not offer explanations as to why the press was almost chased out. 

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