NAIROBI, Kenya Aug 22 – The Council of Governors (CoG) is set to appeal a controversial court ruling barring all constitutional office holders charged with corruption offenses from office pending the full hearing and determination of cases leveled against them.
The move by the CoG to seek legal redress comes amid agitations by the council over the decision by Kiambu Deputy Governor James Nyoro to declare himself the county’s chief after his boss Ferdinand Waititu was indicted in a Sh580 million corruption case arising from irregular tendering.
In a push to safeguard and cement the authority of governors in counties, CoG Chairperson Wycliffe Oparanya said their appeal is purely premised on Article 181 of the Constitution (2010) that clearly stipulates the procedure for removing a sitting governor from office.
“When a Governor is barred from discharging his/her mandate it simply means that someone is trying to deny counties services particularly ones that can only be performed by the Governor,” he said on Thursday during a media briefing at the CoG headquarters in Nairobi’s Westlands.
Oparanya cited cases where the Deputy Governor cannot chair a full cabinet meeting in the event the Governor is absent, an assertion he argued is duly aligned with specific sections of the constitution.
According to Section 32 of the County Governments Act, a Deputy Governor can take charge in the absence of the Governor but restrains him/her from performing certain functions key among them nominating, appointing or dismissing county officials.
The second term Governor said the ruling has since opened a Pandora’s box where Deputy Governors have erroneously interpreted the ruling to serve their own selfish needs.
“We are calling for respect of the existing laws and laid down legal down procedures. Arraigning a Governor in court and denying him access to County offices will only emotionally charge the public,” he said.
Kiambu’s Nyoro has since been dealt a major blow after his attempts to reshuffle the cabinet were strongly objected to by the county’s Attorney General Waithaka Wanjohi who in his advisory opinion cautioned Nyoro from effecting the changes.
But even as the standoff in the county persists, Waititu is still out in the cold, this is after his appeal case to have him access his county offices was thrown out by the High Court.
The Governor had also sought a review of his bail terms from Sh15 million, but the court in its judgement ruled that the terms were commensurate and appropriate.
According to Justice Ngenye Macharia, the lower court rightly imposed the conditions given the grave charges Waititu is facing.
Macharia agreed with the findings of Justice Mumbi Ngugi that a public officer/State officer who faces a criminal case is “in immoral ill health” and allowing them back to office would be a mockery of the law.
“Until such a time that he is vindicated absurdity will reign if he is allowed to go back to office,” she ruled.
Oparanya was however, non-committal on issuing specific dates on when the appeal case will be filed only insisting that the council had deeply considered its options and arrived at a decision that it will challenge the Justice Ngugi’s ruling.