NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 18 – Governors Ferdinand Waititu of Kiambu County and his Samburu counterpart Lenolkulal (Kasaine) will know the outcome of petitions challenging High Court rulings that barred them from accessing their offices on December 20.
This is after a three-judge bench presided over by Judge Daniel Masika said they were unable to make an immediate ruling or give interim orders on the petitions filed before the Court of Appeal, seeking to allow the two county chiefs to access their places of work.
“We will give our verdict on December 20. We cannot make any ruling or issue interim orders at this point,” Masika said on Wednesday.
Lawyer Paul Nyamondi who represented Lenolkulal had argued that the ruling to bar him from accessing office is unconstitutional and that the constitution does not anticipate the temporary suspension of a governor.
He pleaded with the court to allow the appellant (Governor Lenolkulal) to access his office without restrictions.
“There is only one way a public officer can be suspended from accessing his/her place of work and that is through the constitution. Article 181 of the constitution clearly stipulates the procedure under which a governor can be removed from office. Fortunately, or unfortunately the constitution does not provide provisions on how a governor can be temporarily suspended from accessing office,” Nyamondi argued.
“I therefore submit that the orders made by the learned judge, with all due respect were unconstitutional. This has made it impossible for the appellant to serve his people as the county Chief Executive Officer.”
Lawyers Tom Ojienda and Nelson Havi who represented Waititu argued that the magistrate did not follow the rule of law in imposing the condition which they said is compromising county operations.
“Directing that the appellant should not access his office was unconstitutional. Unlike Samburu Governor who goes to his place of work under supervision, Governor Waititu was barred from going there completely. It would be safe to say that the Magistrate Court fired him,” Ojienda said.
“Governor Waititu is a State officer and not all the functions of the Governor can be handled by a Deputy Governor. Therefore, let me submit here that Governor Waititu is not an individual, he a State officer who is in the office, pursuant to constitutional right to vote of the people of Kiambu. I urge this court to allow him to go back to his office to be able deliver his mandate,” Havi said while echoing Ojienda’s sentiments.
The prosecution led by Bernard Muteti however opposed their appeal saying it was in order for magistrates to ask Waititu and Lenolkulal to stay away from their offices adding that the decisions do not equate to their removal from office.
“The case before us is not about the removal of the two governors but a condition that was imposed by judges. I submit that this court should reject the appeal and that the judges did what they had to do to protect the interest of the public and the people the two governors represent,” Muteti said.
The two were barred from accessing their county offices after being charged in corruption cases.
Waititu was charged in a Sh588 million corruption case and faced among other charges engaging in a fraud, conflict of interest, dealing with suspect property, money laundering and abuse of office.
Lenolkulal was charged with Sh84 Million fraud.
The two were released on Sh15m and Sh10m bail respectively.