NAIROBI, Kenya Jan 10 – Senate Speaker Kenneth Lusaka has voiced support for a proposed legislation to grant governors immunity from prosecution saying the law will safeguard devolution.
Debate on the proposed legislation comes amid uncertainty following a court decision barring indicted county chief from office.
The uncertainty has led to a clamor by the Council of Governors (CoG) and a section of Senators pushing for a legislation that grants the county bosses full immunity against any form of prosecution.
Speaker Lusaka, in an exclusive interview with Capital FM News on Thursday, voiced his support for the need to protect Governors from being subjected to any form of trial while still in office due to what he argued was the huge roles they play in the devolved units.
“In other jurisdictions liked the United States, Governors are held in very high esteem. But in Kenya if we try to reduce our leaders and the institution of the Governor then we lose the purpose,” he said.
The former Bungoma Governor said county chiefs should be given latitude to exercise their mandate with decorum because they make executive decisions at the county level just like the President does.
While stating his support for the Bill which is in the offing and due to be tabled in the Senate once the House resumes its normal sittings on February 12, the Speaker pointed out that one can be made accountable for accusations they face once their term lapses.
“The Governor is elected in a whole county by people and when people elect you, they give you mandate, and it means they really respect you. It is important just like the President the Governors should be handled with a bit of decorum and respect,” he said.
He clarified that the Bill sponsored by Nandi Senator and Chairperson of Senate’s Legal Affairs and Human rights committee Chairperson Samson Cherargei is meant protect the institution of the office of the Governor.
Lusaka’s position on the contentious subject comes on the backdrop of a couple of indictments to Governors Mike Sonko (Nairobi), Ferdinand Waititu (Kiambu) and Moses Lenolkulal (Samburu) who were ordered by the court to step aside following their involvement in corruption-related cases.
The Governors’ woes was precipitated by a ruling of a Court of Appeal Judge Mumbi Ngugi who proclaimed that Governors implicated in graft cases should step aside pending the full hearing and determination of their case.
Lusaka further opined that the ruling risks plunging some counties into a crisis over impeding supremacy battles between the Governors and their deputies and in some special cases where a county does not have a deputy citing the Nairobi City County quagmire.
Sonko who was recently charged for misappropriating public funds amounting to Sh357 million was ordered not to set foot in his office rising questions on whether he can govern without accessing his City Hall office.
Sonko recently nominated Anne Kananu as his deputy, a move that sparked anger from the Director of Public Prosecutions Noordin Haji who cautioned him against violating his bail terms failure to which he risks being apprehended.
Lusaka was however quick to defend the besieged Governor noting that Sonko was well within his rights to initiate the nomination because he is still the holder of the office.
“He is till the Governor because he has not been removed from the office. What the court simply said is that he cannot access his office,” he said.
The Senate is scheduled to hold a special sitting on the January 21 when the House will consider the impeachment motion against Kiambu Governor Waititu with Lusaka exuding confidence that the process will be transparent.
Despite some Governors facing impeachment motions before which were later either quashed by the courts or dismissed by the Senate, Lusaka defended the process insisting that it’s a legal obligation by the House.
He however, noted that if the concerns levelled against the Governors are not merited, the motions risk being suppressed.
“Normally the process is above board and I want to assure everybody that the Senate is where to go when you want justice or fairness,” he said.