NAIROBI, Kenya, May 19 – The High Court on Monday ruled that Martin Wambora would continue serving as Embu governor pending the hearing and determination of a suit filed by 35 Embu residents challenging his most recent impeachment by the Senate.
Justice Richard Mwongo explained that it was the natural extension of his earlier decision to bar Embu Deputy Governor Dorothy Nditi from being sworn-in as Governor pending the hearing and determination of the suit before him.
“This court’s earlier decision in essence translates to Wambora remaining in office,” he said.
This was after Wambora, through his lawyer Wilfred Nyamu, sought clarification on what Mwongo’s decision to bar Nditi’s swearing-in meant for him.
Mwongo barred Nditi from being sworn-in as Wambora’s replacement on Thursday after the petitioners argued that it would render their petition impotent.
“If the deputy governor is allowed to assume office prior to the hearing and determination of this petition, the same will amount to offending Article 3(2) which prohibits the establishing of a government that is not complaint with the Constitution,’’ they argued through their legal representatives Okenyo Omwansa and Co. Advocates.
The petitioners contend that Wambora’s ouster by the Senate went against the principles of natural justice as they had previously impeached Wambora on the same charges of abuse of office.
They also take issue with the fact that Kakamega Senator Bonny Khalwale sat on the Senate committee that first recommended Wambora’s impeachment and argue that he should not have sat on the committee that recommended Wambora’s impeachment for a second time due to demonstrated bias.
Wambora had also taken issue with the Embu County Assembly’s move to impeach him, for a second time, less than three months since they last did so and since his reinstatement by the Kerugoya High Court.
“Similar charges cannot be prepared afresh before the lapse of at least three months as provided by section 33 (8) of the County Government Act. It would amount to double jeopardy which is a cardinal principle of natural justice,” he argued through his lawyer Wilfred Nyamu.
The Senate however maintained that despite Mwongo’s ruling on Thursday, Wambora remained impeached.
“We want to request our courts to be conscious and not really engage us in battles because they won’t win; and in terms of our space as legislators we will use it but we will not be intimidated by other institutions,” Senate Majority Leader Kithure Kindiki said.