NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 16 – Martin Wambora was reinstated as Embu Governor on Wednesday, when the High Court in Kerugoya found that he had been ousted before being accorded his constitutionally guaranteed right to a fair-hearing both by the Embu County Assembly and the Senate which impeached him.
The three-judge High Court Bench of Hedwig Ong’udi, Boaz Olao and Cecilia Githua also found that his impeachment by the Embu County Assembly and subsequently by the Senate was illegal as they both contravened court orders.
Both had been barred from debating Wambora’s impeachment by the Kerugoya High Court but they disregarded the orders and went ahead to impeach him.
The High Court has in turn directed Embu County Assembly Speaker Justus Mate Kauma to appear before it for disobeying court orders.
At the time, both the Assembly and the Senate defended their decisions on the grounds that they would fail in their constitutional mandate should they not debate Wambora’s removal from office.
“As far as the Senate is concerned, Governor Wambora was impeached on Friday, February 14 and no court can undo that process because that would be unconstitutional and amount to a dangerous and unprecedented affront to the integrity, legitimacy, and independence to the Legislature. They say courts can only interpret laws. Parliament is only subservient to the people of Kenya,” Senate Majority Leader Kindiki Kithure said at the time.
Wambora was impeached in an unprecedented move by the Embu County Assembly on January 28 for alleged abuse of office and corruption.
“Two contracts for the construction of conference hall and the partitioning of an office at the Embu Town Hall and the refurbishment of the probation office block at a cost of Sh3 million and Sh12.8 million respectively were awarded to two contractors by the Embu County Tender Committee. We noticed some irregularities,” Auditor General Edward Ouko said of the accusations levelled against Wambora.
Wambora and his supporters were however of a contrary opinion and held that the buck for any tender irregularities stopped with the County Executive and not the Governor.
“We hold the view that County Executive Officers are the ones responsible for keeping and maintaining the records. A Governor’s job is purely administrative,” the Chairman of the Council of Governors, Isaac Ruto, said at the height of the impeachment.
When Wambora failed to stop the County Assembly and subsequently the Senate from impeaching him, he sought and succeeded to bar the swearing into office of his deputy Dorothy Nditi as his replacement.
Wambora’s reinstatement on the basis of the legislature’s disregard for court orders comes just a day after the High Court in Nairobi nullified a tribunal formed by President Uhuru Kenyatta to investigate six members of the Judicial Service Commission on the grounds that it was the result of a contravened court order barring the National Assembly from debating their removal from office.