NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 26 – Former Nyamira Senator and 2017 presidential aspirant Kennedy Mongare has welcomed a High Court ruling that laws shielding suspects holding public office from stepping down are defective.
Mongare Friday said laws protecting some public officers from suspension while facing criminal charges are unconstitutional and that they promote corruption and impunity.
“The ruling is very timely, because it has come at a time when our country is struggling to wipe out bad leadership as this will ensure that those entrusted with government positions are held responsible,” said Mongare.
The former presidential aspirant who is among candidates shortlisted for interviews for the position of chairperson of National Land Commission was referring to a ruling delivered on Thursday by High Court Judge Mumbi Ngugi.
“I believe there will be no vacuum in the county. I take judicial note of the fact that there have been circumstances in the past in which county governors have, for reasons of ill health, been out of office, and given the fact that the Constitution provides for the seat of deputy governor, the counties have continued to function,” she observed.
“In this case, the governor is charged with a criminal offence. He has been accused of being in “moral ill-health,’’ if one may term it so,” she pointed out.
While dismissing an application by Samburu Governor Moses Lenolkulal who is facing graft charges, Lady Justice Ngugi upheld orders by a lower court barring the county chief from accessing his office during the period of his trial.
Mongare described the ruling as a sweet victory to Kenyans as it will help tame bad leadership.
“This is because criminal offenses take years before conclusion meaning corruption officials especially Governors may stay out of office for the entire tenure in the cold awaiting the conclusion of the case,” he said.
Mongare’s sentiments mirror those expressed by Director of Public Prosecutions Noordin Haji who has on numerous occasions said public servants charged in court should be suspended from office.
Senior government officials facing corruption charges including former Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich and his Principal Secretary Kamau Thugge have since been replaced as following a commitment made by President Uhuru Kenyatta during the State of the Nation Address in Parliament this year.
Several county chiefs among them Kiambu Governor Ferdinard Waititu, Kitui’s Charity Ngilu and Tharaka Nithi’s Muthomi Njuki are being investigated by the Ethics and Anti- Corruption Commission (EACC) over financial irregularities in their counties.
Also, Migori Governor Okoth Obado has been charged with the murder of university student Sharon Otieno and his trial is ongoing.