Omtatah in court to challenge Law used to impeach Governors

Mwangaza was impeached two days ago by all 59 MCAs.

In Summary
  • The four want the matter handled by an uneven number of Judges as their petition raises weighty issues.
  • The four petitioners claim impeached Governors should be tried before an independent body, not by senators.
Busia Senator Okiya Omtatah.
Busia Senator Okiya Omtatah.
Image: FILE

A day after Meru Governor Kawira Mwangaza was impeached, Busia Senator Okiya Omtatah filed a case at the High Court asking it to declare as unconstitutional the law Senators and County Assemblies have been using to impeach Governors.

Kawira was on Wednesday unanimously impeached by the Meru County Assembly following the tabling of a second motion for her removal from office.

All the 59 MCAs voted in support of the motion. Kawira’s fate now lies with the Senate.

But Omtatah in his petition before the High Court sitting in Milimani says impeached Governors should be tried before an independent body and not by senators.

He has filed the case together with Eliud Matindi, Benson Otieno and Blair Oigoro.

The Attorney General, the National Assembly and the Senate have been listed as respondents in the case.

The four seek an order prohibiting the respondents and any authority or body, from giving effect to sections 11(1)(c), (8), & 11A(1)(b), and 33(2-9A) of the County Government Act, No. 17 of 2012.

The said sections are the laws used to impeach county governors and speakers and their deputies which the four claim do not provide for a fair trial before an independent tribunal.

According to them, when a county assembly impeaches a governor, a speaker, or their deputies, the law must allow for the formation of a tribunal appointed by the Chief Justice to conduct the trial, with the outcome lying on appeal to the Supreme Court for final determination.

“The threshold for the removal of a county governor or deputy governor must be objectively established by an impartial and independent body. The same applies to the removal speakers of county assemblies and their deputies,” they say.

“It is not simply a matter of numbers in the County Assembly. It is not a vote of no confidence that has no specific grounds anchored in law, it is not a political decision involving no disgrace, and which needs a simple majority to vote in favour, leading to a forced resignation,” read their documents in part.

They say because there is no requirement for a fair trial before an independent tribunal, the disputed provisions of the County Government Act are open to abuse and are used by Members of the County Assemblies to extort favours from governors and speakers. 

“The failure to provide for a fair trial before an independent tribunal has created the untenable situation whereby county assemblies across the country have taken their governors and speakers, hostage, by hanging the threat of impeachment above the heads of governors and speakers, and their deputies, like the sword of Damocles,” they say.

The four in their petition have also asked the court to certify that their matter raises substantial questions of law and should be referred to Chief Justice Martha Koome to constitute a bench of an uneven number of judges to hear the case.

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