NEVER ANY PEACE

War continues as Ngwele suspends Elachi, hours after court halts appointment of new clerk

Aluta continua! Ngwele suspends Elachi hours after court halts appointment of new clerk

In Summary

• On Tuesday, MCAs attempted to serve speaker Beatrice Elachi with  notice of a censure motion against her.

• Once served, she would be suspended, but she was protected by police. 

Central police Station officer Mr Simon Kerich drags out Nairobi County Assembly Clerk Jacob Ngwele (C) out of the County Assembly corridors after they went to serve the speaker with a court order on 28 July 2020.
Central police Station officer Mr Simon Kerich drags out Nairobi County Assembly Clerk Jacob Ngwele (C) out of the County Assembly corridors after they went to serve the speaker with a court order on 28 July 2020.
Image: FREDERICK OMONDI

Wrangles continue to rock City Hall as clerk Jacob Ngwele sent embattled Speaker Beatrice Elachi a notification of a lodging of a notice to impeach her.

In the letter sent on Tuesday evening, Ngwele went ahead to suspend Elachi in the meantime.

Earlier, the Employment and Labour Relations Court suspended the gazettement of Edward Gichana which was done last week by Elachi.

Gichana had been sworn in as the new clerk to replace Ngwele.

It was just another day of tumult and teargas at the Nairobi County Assembly.

The violence broke out as MCAs attempted to serve Elachi with a notice of censure motion, leading to possible impeachment. If served, she would be suspended pending outcome of the matter.

It is the second attempt to impeach her; the first was in 2018.

 
 

Riot police fired tear gas at to disperse MCAs. Mlango Kugwa MCA  Patricia Mutheu reportedly was beaten.

The pro-impeachment MCAs claimed to have enough signatures to start the removal process. They cite six grounds for removing Elachi in their second attempt.

They include alleged militarisation of assembly, abuse of office, illegal appointment of the assembly clerk, impunity, poor leadership, financial irregularities, victimisation of MCAs and assembly staff and disregard for the law.

On Monday, legislators allied to Elachi said they will go after Governor Mike Sonko, whom they accuse of being behind the speaker’s woes.

The pro-impeachment MCAs arrived at the assembly at 9.30am but were barred from entry.

Assembly Clerk Jacob Ngwele had accompanied the MCAs to serve a court order suspending the appointment of Edward Gichana as the clerk.

Last week, Elachi had suspended all physical meetings, with plenary sittings and committee meetings going virtual.

 
 

Blocked from accessing the entrance of the assembly, the legislators gained entrance through the executive side of City Hall.

Their plans to physically serve the impeachment notice were derailed after police barred them from entering the speaker's office.

Elachi, who was in her office, was under guard, as police blocked the corridors leading to her office.

The pro-impeachment MCAs pleaded with the police to let in Ngwele and Deputy Majority Whip Waithera Chege to serve the Speaker with the notice of impeachment motion and a court order.

The standoff went south after riot police fired tear gas to disperse the MCAs. 

MCAs, assembly staff and media fled for fresh air.

So far, 59 out of 122 MCAs have signed the notice of impeachment. Only 42 signatures are needed to table the notice before the assembly.

Waithaka MCA Antony Kiragu said the speaker was afraid because she knows she stands suspended once notified of the notice of impeachment - until the motion is heard and determined.

“Since Elachi’s return there has been nothing but chaos and she has been running the assembly like her personal property," Kiragu said.

"The speaker is responsible for the current fight between the Nairobi Metropolitan Services and the county government and we have decided she must go," he said.

According to the County Governments (Amendments) Act, 2020 Sction 7, once the clerk receives the notice of motion, the speaker will be notified and will stand suspended pending resolution of the matter by the county assembly.

Ngwele said he is the clerk of the assembly and he had been served with the notice of motion by the MCAs who will move the censure motion.

However, he was blocked by police from physically serving the speaker.

Elachi had sworn in Edward Gichana as county clerk to replace Ngwele, but that swearing in and gazettement was suspended.

“I was going to serve her with the letter to show her the notice of motion, the grounds for her impeachment and informing her that she needs to respond within seven days but that was not possible. However, I have served her on WhatsApp,” Ngwele said.

On Monday, the Employment and Labour Relations court suspended the appointment of Edward Gichana as the new assembly clerk.

It suspended the gazettement, pending determination of an application filed in court by Ngwele. He seeks conservatory orders quashing Gichana's appointment on July 24 pending the outcome of his petition.

In the petition filed on July 26, Elachi has been listed as the first respondent while the Assembly Service Board is the second respondent.

“It is hereby ordered that the appointment of Edward Gichana as clerk of the Nairobi County Assembly with effect from July 23, 2020, as published by the first respondent in the Kenya Gazette No.5072 of July 24, 2020, is hereby suspended pending inter partes hearing of the application herein,” the order by Justice Maureen Onyango on July 28 reads.

Elachi blamed Sonko for the recent bid by MCAs to impeach her and the woes at the county assembly. It's their second impeachment attempt.

“I am not immune from impeachment. Coming into this establishment I knew it was a possibility. But this one is a battle between Governor Sonko and Nairobi Metropolitan Services director general, Major General Mohamed Badi, and I have now been roped in,” Elachi said.

The speaker also said Sonko was behind the return of Ngwele to the assembly to forestall pending impeachment that had been halted by the courts.

(Edited by V. Graham)