Kitui County Assembly sets the date for Governor Ngilu’s impeachment

File photo of Kitui Governor Charity Ngilu. Photo/FILE
File photo of Kitui Governor Charity Ngilu.

The motion to impeach Kitui Governor Charity Ngilu will be tabled at the County Assembly on Wednesday.

Ngilu will be required to appear personally before the Assembly on July 15 at 10.00am to respond to the allegations in the impeachment motion.

Alternatively, the embattled governor can choose to be represented by at least two legal counsels.

The impeachment comes barely five days after the High Court granted the assembly authority to continue with the impeachment motion against the governor.

This followed a ruling by Justice Weldon Korir who dismissed Ngilu’s application seeking to stop the assembly from tabling and debating the impeachment motion against her, for “lacking merit and failure to meet the required threshold to grant conservatory orders”.

In a notification letter dated July 9, the County Assembly speaker George Ndotto, told Ngilu that she was required to appear before the assembly to respond to the allegations as contained in the notice of motion which was forwarded to her on June 23.

“This is to notify you that the Motion dated 16th June, 2020 calling for the removal of the governor, County Government of Kitui by impeachment shall be considered by the County Assembly of Kitui between 15th July 2020 and 17th July 2020 in the line with Standing Order 60 of the Kitui County Assembly Standing orders,” the speaker’s letter read in part.

The speaker invited the Governor to appear before the assembly to face the MCAs over the allegations on the impeachment motion.

County Assembly Majority Leader and Athi ward MCA Peter Kilonzo alias Tangawizi, will move the motion dubbed “the removal of Hon Charity Ngilu from the office of the governor by impeachment”, which has been signed by 40 MCAs out of 56.

Kilonzo says the assembly seeks to oust the governor on allegations of violating the constitution and provisions of the county government act, abuse of office and failure to account for public funds.

He also accuses Ngilu of undermining the authority of the county assembly and conflict of interest in awarding county tenders.

For instance, the motion has cited Ngilu’s for failure to comply with the two-thirds gender rule in the appointments of members of the County Executive Committee, noting that since August 2019; the executive committee has only one female out of seven members.

The motion further accuses the Governor of failing to honour summons of the senate committee on County Public Investment and Accounts to shed light on audit queries regarding the management and expenditure of county funds amounting to Sh20 billion for 2017 /2018 and 2018/ 2019 financial years.

The motion notes that when the governor finally appeared before the committee, she failed to give a satisfactory explanation to the audit queries.

The MCAs also accuse Ngilu of conflict of interest and abuse of office in the purchase of a stationary stone crusher valued at Sh85 million and whose tender, the motion claims by way of attaching procurement documents; was awarded to the governor’s relative through single sourcing and in which public funds are believed to have been embezzled.

Last week, Justice Korir dismissed Ngilu’s petition challenging the impeachment motion, effectively vacating the conservatory orders he had earlier granted.

Respondents had opposed the application, through a replying affidavit by speaker Ndotto and a further affidavit sworn by Kilonzo.

Ngilu had argued the constitutional requirement of public participation was not met because of the outbreak of coronavirus. But in his ruling, Justice Korir said nobody knows when the pandemic will be contained and new ways must be designed to achieve constitutional requirements in such matters.

“Legislative business cannot stall because of a disease that is at the moment beyond human control. Ultimately, it is the responsibility of the respondents to ensure the impeachment process meets the constitutional threshold both procedurally and substantively,” Korir said.

He said failure by the respondents to discharge this duty and failure by the Senate to correct the anomaly by rejecting the impeachment will render it an exercise in futility. Any legal challenge will lead to its quashing by the court for failure to adhere to the constitution, he said.

“Impeachment of a governor is akin to an election petition. It would, therefore, be advised that any person desirous of filing a court case in respect to impeachment should approach a High Court within the county,” adding that

“It is important for residents to have access to the court where such proceedings are taking place”.

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