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Undeterred by impeachment, three former governors plot comeback

By Josphat Thiong’o | Jan 24th 2022 | 3 min read

Former governors Mike Sonko (Nairobi),inset, Ferdinand Waititu (Kiambu) and Mohamed Abdi Mohamud (Wajir). [File, Standard]

Three governors impeached in the last five years have decided to take the bull by the horns and plot a comeback.

Former governors Mike Sonko (Nairobi), Ferdinand Waititu (Kiambu) and Mohamed Abdi Mohamud (Wajir) have declared their intentions to be on the ballot in the August 9 elections.

Their comeback, they say, is premised on the fact that the Constitution allows them to vie for elective positions since they have not been convicted.

Mr Waititu became the first governor to be impeached on December 19, 2019, by the Kiambu County Assembly over gross misconduct, abuse of office and engaging in corruption barely three years into office. The impeachment was upheld by the Senate.

In the impeachment proceedings, Waititu was accused of influencing the award of county tenders worth millions of shillings to his wife and three daughters.

The Senate was also told that although the assembly approved road contracts worth Sh1.4 billion in the 2018/19 financial year, the county government awarded Sh2.1 billion worth of tenders.

However, in January 2020, Waititu moved to the High Court to appeal his impeachment, arguing that the assembly and the Senate failed to observe the constitutional procedures. The ruling on the case is coming up on January 24, 2022.

In an exclusive interview with The Standard, the former Kiambu governor who is an ally of Deputy President William Ruto said he would seek to recapture the seat on a UDA ticket.

“The law is clear that unless you have been convicted and jailed for more than six months and exhausted your appeals, you can still vie. I have not been convicted, I am innocent until proven guilty and my case is still in court. There is currently no law barring me from seeking election into public office,” stated Waititu.

Mr Sonko said he is waiting for the right time to announce which seat he will vie for and his political party vehicle.

“I have been a senator for five years and a governor for three years and I know the right time to start my campaigns and where the votes are. Let those who are launching their bids now and engaging in early campaigns continue. I am currently in consultation with my people,” he said.

“Even if I am convicted tomorrow and I have not exhausted all appeal avenues, I have to vie. My case is currently at the Court of Appeal and if it happens that I lose, I’ll still file another appeal at the Supreme Court,” he added.  

The former Nairobi governor was impeached by the assembly on December 3, 2020 over claims of gross violation of the Constitution, abuse of office, commission of crimes under the national laws and lacking the mental capability to run the county government. The decision was also upheld by the Senate on December 17.

Former Wajir governor Mohamud has announced that he will be seeking to recapture the seat.

Lawyer and constitutional expert Bobby Mkangi explained that as per the Constitution, the governors are yet to be convicted therefore they can still be on the ballot. “They are relying on the fact that they have appealed their ouster and the cases are yet to be concluded. They also know that a conviction is deemed to have been finalised when all avenues of appeal or review have been exhausted,” said Mkangi.

Political analyst and University of Nairobi lecturer Herman Manyora concurred with Mkangi that there is no law that directly bars the governors from vying.

He however said the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) and the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) may bar the former governors from vying.

“If they are not barred, any Kenyan can move to court under Chapter Six of the Constitution and seek interpretation from the Supreme Court on whether the impeached governors can be cleared to vie,” said Manyora.

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