GROSS MISCONDUCT?

Senate to hear Abdi impeachment despite court order

Speaker says Senate is an independent institution whose proceedings cannot be stopped

In Summary

• On Thursday, the High Court barred Lusaka from gazetting the impeachment of the governor to allow for hearings in the Senate.

•The order came on the same day Lusaka received a notification from Wajir county speaker Ibrahim Yakub on the assembly’s resolution to impeach the governor

Wajir Governor Mohamed Abdi in Wajir Stadium on Jamhuri Day.
ABDI: Wajir Governor Mohamed Abdi in Wajir Stadium on Jamhuri Day.
Image: STEPHEN ASTARIKO

The Senate will hear Wajir Governor Mohamed Abdi’s impeachment case despite a court order suspending it.

Speaker Kenneth Lusaka the Senate is an independent institution whose proceedings cannot be injuncted or restrained.

“I have not seen any court injunction and in any case we are also an independent institution,” Lusaka told the Star on Friday.

But the governor’s lead lawyer Ndegwa Njiru told the Star the Senate had been duly served with court orders.

On Thursday, the High Court barred Lusaka from gazetting the impeachment of the governor to allow for commencement of the hearings in the Senate.

The order came the same day Lusaka received a notification from Wajir county speaker Ibrahim Yakub on the assembly’s resolution to impeach the governor.

Abdi was impeached on Tuesday after 37 out of 45 MCAs voted to remove him from office. After an assembly acts, only the Senate can officially confirm an impeachment.

The ward reps accused the governor of abuse of office, gross violation of the Constitution and gross misconduct. They defied an order by the same court suspending the proceedings.

Lusaka said he already has received a request from Majority leader Samuel Poghisio to convene a special sitting in Wednesday to agree on the method of hearing the case.

“The leader of majority had requested, and I have approved that on Tuesday we continue and finish the BBI Bill and County Allocation of Revenue Bill, 2021. On Wednesday, we will listen to the Wajir case," he said.

During the sitting, the senators will decide whether Abdi’s case will be heard before the plenary or a special committee formed to investigate the allegations levelled against him.

Section 33 of the County Governments Act states the Senate, by resolution, may appoint an 11-member committee to investigate impeachment cases. The committee may invite the governor and county assembly to argue their cases. 

“A special committee [will be] appointed to investigate the matter and report to the Senate within 10 days on whether it finds the particulars of the allegations against the governor to have been substantiated,” the Act states.

If at least six of the 11 committee members reject all grounds for impeachment, the removal effort will fail and the governor will resume his duties.

Abdi’s intended removal comes barely five months after the Senate upheld the removal of Mike Sonko as Nairobi governor.

In January last year, the senators also upheld the impeachment of Ferdinand Waititu as Kiambu county boss.

The MCAs accuse the county boss of presiding over  irregular expenditures and failingto update the assembly on the status of development projects.

Tulatula/Elnoor MCA Abdullahi Isaak who moved the motion termed the impeachment grounds as serious.

The governor is accused of failing to provide quarterly expenditure reports to the county assembly as required by the Public Finance Management Act.

He is also accused of failing to submit to the county assembly an annual report on the implementation status of county policies and plans.

The MCAs further accuse the governor of violating Articles 176 (1) and 185 of the Constitution by disregarding the county assembly as an arm of the county government.

On Tuesday, Abdi accused "external forces" of the impeachment push.

He said MCAs had not given dialogue a chance, saying they were being used by politicians in Nairobi.

“The MCAs are being used by some politicians in Nairobi," Abdi said. "Some are eyeing the Wajir top seat in 2022. I want to tell those using the county assembly to spread the gospel that their days are numbered."

(Edited by V. Graham)