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Date set for Governor Ngilu’s impeachment motion

Kitui County Assembly Speaker George Ndotto has summoned Governor Charity Ngilu to appear before the house during the tabling of her impeachment motion scheduled for Wednesday.

In a letter, the Speaker notifies the Governor that the motion dated June 16 calling for her removal by impeachment would come up for debate on July 15 and 17, 2020.

“I invite you to appear before the County Assembly pursuant to Standing Order 63 of the Kitui County Assembly to respond to the allegations as contained in the aforesaid motion,” read part of the letter.

Following the roughing up of her legal team barely two weeks ago at the precincts of the assembly, Ndotto’s letter invited the Governor to appear in person or be represented by her legal team.

“Seeing that the County Assembly is constrained of space, should you choose to appear in person, you may be accompanied by two legal counsel. In the event that you choose to appear through legal counsel, you may be represented by utmost two legal counsel without any legal assistant,” read the letter.

Governor Ngilu has been allocated two hours to present her responses before the County Assembly who would determine her fate.

Last week, Nairobi High Court dismissed a suit by the Governor’s challenging her ouster for lack of merit giving fresh impetus for her impeachment motion to proceed before the County Assembly.

Justice Weldon Korir quashed conservatory orders he had issued on June 24, 2020 to temporarily stop debate on her impeachment motion that was slated for June 29, 2020.

The court said that it would not stop the impeachment motion on the basis that the motion did not meet the threshold for impeachment and that the proceedings have been commenced in bad faith.

“If at the end of the trial the Assembly removes the Governor, that decision will have to be confirmed by the Senate. It will hear her and review the impeachment proceedings and materials in order to ensure that the constitutional and legal parameters were met,” read the ruling.

Justice Korir said that the question whether the impeachment met the Constitutional threshold was one of the issues to be addressed during the impeachment proceedings at the floor of the house.

According to Justice Korir, the Governor failed to demonstrate to the court that she indeed had a genuine and arguable case on issues of alleged non-compliance with the timelines and was not supplied with evidence in support of the motion by the County Assembly.

He also dismissed an application from Francis Muinde Kiliku, Esther Kasyoka Muthui, Jane Mwende Kimuyu Kibati, Joseph Kyavoa, Bernard Mwenda Munyasya and David Munyao seeking to be enjoined in the petition.

The six were rejected by the County Assembly following their nomination for appointment as members of Kitui County Public Service Board.

Justice Korir said the applicants failed to demonstrate how the impeachment of the Governor of Kitui County affected their Constitutional rights and fundamental freedoms.

Three voters, Queen Moli Masila, Gustus James Mutiso and Jones Nundu averred in court that being registered voters in Kitui County, they were not involved or consulted prior to the filing of the motion to impeach their Governor and were deprived of their sovereign power and democratic will to participate in the impeachment motion.

“The applicants are not more special than any of the thousands of voters who elected the Governor. Their claim that they want to defend the constitutional right to public participation does not make them more important than the other voters,” said Justice Korir in his ruling.

The court said that allowing them to come on board would mean that every registered voter from Kitui County will be entitled to join these proceedings as parties or interested parties, “That would not only be messy but also unacceptable,” the judge observed.

The court challenged petitioners filing a court case in respect of an impeachment process to approach the High Court within the County in which the impeachment is taking place rather than rushing to Nairobi.

Athi Ward Representative, Peter Kilonzo drafted the motion in which Governor Ngilu is accused of violating the Constitution, abusing her office and gross misconduct.

In the motion in question, the MCA claims that the Governor was summoned to appear before the Senate Committee on County Public Investment and Accounts (CPIAC) to shed light on audit queries over management of the county funds and expenditure for the 2017-2018 and 2018-2019 financial years, cumulatively amounting to approximately Sh 20 million.

The audit queries had been raised by the Auditor General in his reports for the years ended June 30, 2018 and June 30, 2019 respectively.

The motion has cited Ngilu’s for failure to comply with the two-thirds gender rule in the appointments of members of County Executive Committee, noting that since August 2019; the executive committee has only one female out of seven members.

Another reason the MCAs want Ngilu out is related to “conflict of interest and abuse of office” in the purchase of a stationary stone crusher valued at Sh 85 million and whose tender, the motion claims by way of attaching procurement documents; was awarded to the governor’s relative through single sourcing and in which public funds are believed to have been embezzled.

The motion has also indicted the Governor for undermining the authority of the assembly by failing to sack Philip Mumo, the County Executive in charge of Trade, Cooperatives and Investments who was last year impeached by the assembly.

By Yobesh Onwong’a

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