, NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 28 – Kitui Senator David Musila has been elected to chair the special committee set up to probe allegations leading to the impeachment of Governor Mwangi wa Iria by the Murang’a County Assembly.
He will be deputised by nominated Senator Fatuma Dullo Adan.
The 11-member committee is expected to commence hearings immediately to ensure it beats the 10-day deadline when it is expected to submit its report to the House determining whether the reasons given by County Assembly are justified.
Other members of the committee are Billow Kerrow (Mandera), Abu Chiaba (Lamu), John Lonyangapuo (West Pokot), Muriuki Karue (Nyandarua), Stephen Sang’ (Nandi), Janet Ong’era (Nominated), Catherine Mukiite (Nominated), Stewart Madzayo (Kilifi) and Moses Kajwang’ (Homabay).
The MCAs have accused Iria of gross violation of the Constitution, the County Government Act 2012, Public Finance Management Act 2012 and Public Procurement and Disposal Act 2005 that there was mismanagement of county resources by incurring unsustainable debts of up to Sh2.5billion which were not disclosed in the debt management paper 2015 and the county fiscal strategy paper 2015.
Members of the County Assembly feared that some county assets would be auctioned due to debts as they questioned why Gakoigo stadium was allocated Sh30 million in the 2014/15 yet it had incurred a Sh59 million debt the previous year and there was no evidence that the debt had been paid.
In the report presented to the Speaker of the Senate Ekwee Ethuro, the MCAs further accused Iria of allowing the misappropriation of county funds in private commercial entities.
They cited the fact that the Auditor General had raised queries over why Sh28 million was pumped into the controversial Murang’a Investment Co-Operative Society otherwise known as ‘Shilingi Kwa Shilingi’.
“The County Executive under the stewardship of the Governor incurred an advertisement expenditure Sh247 million against an approved budget of Sh7 million as at 31st March 2015.”
They also accused Iria of disregarding the assembly as an Arm of Government and not remitting monies to them hence crippling their activities.
The 30 Senators present and who endorsed the special committee expressed confidence in its ability to dispense justice not only to aggrieved Murang’a residents but also to the embattled Governor who risks being removed from office.
Makueni Senator Mutula Kilonzo Jnr lauded the courts for declining to bar the Senate from considering the matter after the presiding judge said he was not convinced Iria would suffer prejudice since the Senate had not stated that it will not give Iria a hearing.
“This impeachment is here because the court has rejected an injunction of the matter,” said Kilonzo.
Senators Kiraitu Murungi and Mutahi Kagwe also implored the committee to be impartial and resist attempts by outsiders who may try to influence their decision.
“Let us be aware that there are stakeholders and interest groups that will try and interfere with the process, I hope our colleagues will rise above those influences, party interests and abuse towards the Senate process and come up with a process that can be held high,” said Kagwe.
Murungi on his part noted that the Senate was on ‘trial’ owing to the fact it had to play its oversight role while at the same time cracking the whip on ‘rogue’ Governors.
“Governors will be looking at us…Kenyans will be watching us to see whether we are letting off the Governors who have been accused of misappropriation of funds,” he said.
Since the Governor has not had a very cordial relationship with the Senate after he defied summons to appear before the Public Accounts Committee to respond to audit queries, Murungi urged his colleagues to concentrate on the charges and omit the sideshows.
Iria had questioned why the Senate was insistent on him appearing before it and whether he a ‘tourist attraction’.
Bungoma Senator Moses Wetangula who is facing challenges of his own added: “Let us proceed on the basis that Iria is innocent until proven guilty. Let us not be clouded by press reports or what is happening in other counties.”