• Deputy governors to take over if governors are charged.
• Many governors are on the radar of anti-graft detectives, portending hard times.
Governors facing graft charges are starring at a bleak future and the possibility of being hounded out of office, even as it emerged that detectives are targeting more counties.
In a landmark decision that has shaken governors to the core, the High Court ruled last week that county chiefs charged with corruption should stay away from their office.
Their roles should be completely taken over by their duties for the duration of their trials, the ruling stated.
But it’s not just governors. According to the ruling, all state officers including the deputy president will be required to step aside if charged with graft.
On Sunday, the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission insisted that the ruling must be implemented to the letter, just hours after they pounced on Kiambu Governor Ferdinand Waititu.
Nasa Chief Executive Officer Norman Magaya described the ruling as a tornado.
“Its tenor and effect will shake the Kenyan political landscape in a manner never witnessed before,” he said.
Waititu who spent the night in police custody is likely to be the second casualty of the radical decision after Samburu’s Moses Lenolkulal.
With the ruling, there should be no more questions of these governors being in office. We shall ensure the law is implementedEACC spokesman Yassin Amaro
This is also the position of Director of Public Prosecutions Noordin Haji who has repeatedly said governors must step aside and not be allowed access to their office, lest they damage evidence and intimidate witnesses.
Yesterday, there were speculations that the Council of Governors was planning to challenge the decision in the Court of Appeal.
COG Chairman Wickliffe Oparanya did not answer calls or respond to text messages about the governor's plans.
Deputy governors have always been seen as flower girls without executive roles, but the ruling by Justice Mumbi Ngungi would now hand them power on a silver platter.
However, some critics claim the ruling could be abused to kick out governors from office.
“It seems by the end of the year all the 47 governors will have been charged in court. Going by the decision of Justice Mumbi Ngugi, it is the greatest time to be a deputy governor. You just fix your boss and, voila, you take over. Being DG in Kenya is not bad after all,” Senate Majority leader Kipchumba Murkomen said.
In Samburu, the defacto governor is Lenolkula’s deputy, Julius Lesseto Lawrence.
Justice Mumbi ordered the governor to stay away from his office for the duration of his trial.
“He [Lenolkulal] is charged with basically the offence of enriching himself at the expense of the people of Samburu county who elected him and whom he is expected to serve. Would it serve the public interest for him to go back to the office and preside over the finances of the county that he has been charged with embezzling from?” shea sked.
Lenolkulal and other senior county staff are facing prosecution over a Sh84.7 million fuel fraud.
In Kiambu, James Nyoro who has had a frosty relation with Waititu is poised to take over as the boss.
on Sunday, EACC told the Star that most counties were on their radar, including Wajir, Mandera and Garissa.
On Friday, Haji directed the DCI to investigate Garissa Governor Ali Korane’sadministration.
The DPP said he has received “numerous complaints in respect to mismanagement and misappropriation” of the county and its funds.
“Taking into account the magnitude of the task, kindly let me have a progress report within 30 days,” Haji directed.
Busia Governor Sospeter Ojamong and several other senior officials are already in court for an alleged Sh8 million scandal.
Migori’s Okoth Obado is facing murder and corruption charges.
Several other county bosses are on the radar of the EACC and have been questioned at Integrity Centre.
They include Tharaka Nithi’s Muthomi Njuki and Kitui’s Charity Ngilu.
Njuki was questioned about the procurement of an incinerator said to have been bough for Sh4 million and sold to the county for Sh34 million.
Ngilu is on the spot over alleged irregular hiring of a county executive member.
At the heart of the investigations is a Sh89 million deal for the de-silting of Marumba dam and another Sh50 million that was pumped by the Danish International Development Agency.
Irregular hiring is also threatening to sink Nyamira Governor John Nyagarama.
The EACC had recommended the prosecution of Nyagarama but Haji returned the file and asked detectives to tie up the loose ends.
Machakos Governor Alfred Mutua’s administration is also being investigated for an alleged twin dam scandal that could plunge the flamboyant county chief in trouble.