, NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 3 – The Senate will continue with the impeachment process of Murang’a Governor Mwangi wa Iria after the High Court declined to issue conservatory orders stopping the process.
In his ruling, Justice Joseph Onguto indicated that Iria should not shy away from public scrutiny as due process was followed by the Murang’a County Assembly as outlined in the Constitution.
He further pointed out that the Senate is expected to protect the interest of the public and would ensure that transparency and accountability are upheld.
“The conduct of the County Assembly and the Senate should only raise the antennae of this court only if they do something perverse to normal conduct. In view of this the reserved question as to whether the petitioners are entitled to the conservatory orders sort must be answered to the negative. The application for conservatory orders fails for the reasons advanced and it is dismissed,” he ruled.
Justice Onguto explained that Iria’s right to a fair hearing was not violated since he did not attend any of the sittings by the County Assembly despite numerous invitations and that in his absence, the debate on the motion proceeded.
“There is no controversy that the first petitioner was notified of the intended motion. He was also invited to make representations of the intended motion and file appropriate evidence if any. The invite was made in writing on October 13th 2015. The motion was also attached to the letter,” the judge stated.
He observed that the Murang’a Governor was also given evidence in support of the motion.
“He was to attend the hearing when the matter was to come up in the Order Paper. He however did not attend. Instead, he wrote back and denied the allegations in the motion. He then sought for additional documents in support of the motion.”
He indicated the public interest favoured the Senate and thus the impeachment process should be allowed to proceed.
“As the petitioner will not be prejudiced and as the petition will not be rendered nugatory and as public interest will favour the Senate, council of prudence would dictate that no conservatory orders are granted,” he said.
He stated that the court did not need to be involved in the process at that particular time.
“I find and hold that there are no exceptional circumstances proven or shown by the petitioner to warrant this court’s intervention. I find that there was nothing contrary to common logic to warrant judicial interference at this intermediary stage,” he said.
He emphasised the need for the rule of law to be observed in this instance.
“I have seen the documents filed in support of the petition. I have read them; I have also read the replying affidavits. There is no doubt that the first petitioner was entitled to be heard or to be given the opportunity to be heard as the process of the removal of a Governor is a quasi judicial process and the rules of natural justice must apply and be observed,” he stated.
Iria wanted the High Court to stop the Senate from considering the County Assembly’s resolution to impeach him.
The assembly voted for the ouster of Iria by a majority last month in response to accusations that he mismanaged public funds.
Iria’s lawyers, Paul Muite and Ng’ang’a Mbugua, as well as the Council of Governors’ Peter Wanyama had insisted that the County Assembly’s resolution to impeach him was unfair.
The lawyers had argued the assembly did not follow due process and had denied the county boss a hearing.
Muite had told the court that the allegations levelled against Governor Iria were made as a result of his refusal to be arm-twisted by members of the county assembly.
He said Iria, therefore, does not have any direct links with the charges.