Governors Waititu, Lenolkulal lose appeals on accessing office

Court says order is a constructive measure and does not amount to removal from office.

In Summary

• Lenolkulal had in July appealed against Justice Mumbi Ngugi’s decision to decline to exercise her powers of revision over a ruling that bars him from accessing his office.

• The governor is charged alongside 13 others and faces four counts, including conspiracy to commit an offence of corruption, abuse of office and unlawful acquisition of property contrary to the law.

Governors Moses Lenolkulal (Samburu) and Ferdinard Waititu (Kiambu)
Governors Moses Lenolkulal (Samburu) and Ferdinard Waititu (Kiambu)

Governors Moses Lenolkulal  and Ferdinard Waititu have suffered another blow after the Court of Appeal upheld a ruling barring them from accessing office.

Appeal judges on Friday said that says order is a constructive measure and does not amount to removal from office.

Lenolkulal had in July appealed against Justice Mumbi Ngugi’s decision to decline to exercise her powers of revision over a ruling that bars him from accessing his office.

 
 

The governor is charged alongside 13 others and faces four counts, including conspiracy to commit an offence of corruption, abuse of office and unlawful acquisition of property contrary to the law.

 

Lenolkulal, through his lawyers sought revision of the directions issued by the trial court, which gave interim orders prohibiting him from accessing county government offices, pending the hearing and determination of his case.

But Ngugi declined to exercise her powers of revision over the trial court decision.

 In his application, he argued that he is a holder of a constitutional office, hence, even though he is charged with an offence of corruption, he should continue performing his duties during the trial.

Justice Mumbi Ngugi stated that she looked beyond the interests of the individual holder of the constitutional office and considered the wider public interest.

“In the matter before me, the governor of a county, to whom Article 10 and Chapter 6 apply, is charged with the offence of abuse of office. He is charged with basically enriching himself at the expense of the people of Samburu county who elected him and whom he is expected to serve,” she said.

“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? What message does it send to the citizen if their leaders are charged with serious corruption offences, and are in office the following day, overseeing the affairs of the institution?” 

 
 

Justice Ngugi pointed out that she considered the implications of directing that the applicant does not access his office and quoted the County Government Act that provides for the deputy governor as a substitute.

 

The ruling comes after the Director of Public Prosecutions Noordin Hajji moved to court seeking the cancellation of bail terms for the governor.

Hajji  accused the embattled governor of failing to obey the court order that barred him from accessing office.

Lenolkulal had reshuffled his CECs through a gazette notice, but the DPP argued that this was against the orders of the court.

Waititu (impeached), in July put on a spirited fight to ensure he remains in office, pending his trial.

This is after Anti-Corruption Court magistrate Lawrence Mugambi imposed the condition as he granted him Sh15 million bail and alternative Sh30 million bond.

Mugambi said barring Waititu from going back to the office does not violate the Constitution or amount to his removal but is intended to ensure the integrity and credibility of the trial and safeguard the public interest.

Waititu's fate comes after Kiambu MCAs on Thursday  voted to impeach him for abuse of office and gross misconduct. 

A total of 63 MCAs out of 92 voted in support of his removal.

Only one MCA voted against the impeachment motion, while 28 MCAs were absent.

The governor was also voted out on charges of conflict of interest for using proxy companies to trade with the county and failure to comply with procurement regulations.