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High Court reinstates Wambora as Embu governor

Wednesday April 16 2014

Reinstated Embu governor Martin Wambora after the court ruled in his favour. The High Court sitting in Kerugoya Wednesday afternoon ruled that a Senate decision to impeach him was done in breach of a court order and was therefore null and void. PHOTO/JOSEPH KANYI.

Reinstated Embu governor Martin Wambora after the court ruled in his favour. The High Court sitting in Kerugoya Wednesday afternoon ruled that a Senate decision to impeach him was done in breach of a court order and was therefore null and void. PHOTO/JOSEPH KANYI. NATION

GEORGE MUNENE
By GEORGE MUNENE
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The High Court has reinstated Mr Martin Wambora as the governor of Embu County.

The court nullified a Senate and Embu County Assembly decision to impeach Mr Wambora as governor, saying it was done in breach of a court order.

Three Judges sitting at the Kerugoya High court Wednesday afternoon overturned the decision of the Senate to impeach Embu governor Martin Wambora.

In a historic Judgement, Mr Wambora was reinstated back to office by the court which ruled that his removal by the Senate was null and void.

WELCOMED RULING

The landmark ruling was welcomed by county bosses present and the counsel for the petitioner.

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Justices, Cecilia Githua, Hedwig Ong'udi and Boaz Olao said the Senate special 11-member committee constituted to investigate allegations of violation of public finance and public procurement laws levelled against Mr Wambora acted in total disobedience of a conservatory court order issued against it and therefore its decision was unlawful.

The Judges also directed that the Senate Gazette Notice 1052 which endorsed the ouster of Mr Wambora be quashed with immediate effect.

The three-judge bench issued the order on February 4, 2014 restraining the committee from discussing the resolutions of the Embu County Assembly which had impeached Mr Wambora which they defied.

"The Senate committee was duly served with the order which had been issued by Justice David Majanja and duly stamped.

IGNORED ORDER

It discussed the order but chose to ignore it," the lead Judge, Lady Justice, Ong'udi said.

The Judges maintained that any proceedings held in disregard of court orders were a nullity in law and would not be allowed by the court.

"Anything done in disobedience of court orders is illegal," the Judges said in a five-hour judgement.

The Judges warned that if disobedience of court orders was allowed to continue the authority of courts will be eroded and the public will not have confidence in the Judiciary.

They observed that the Constitution was supreme and all must abide by it.

"The mighty and the low should abide by the Constitution as no one is above the law," Justice Ong'udi said.

The Judges said everyone should obey court orders irrespective of their status, maintaining it was illegal and an offence not to do so.

REMOVAL PROCESS ILLEGAL

They said the whole process of the removal of Mr Wambora right from the County Assembly to the Senate was illegal.

Prior to the impeachment of Mr Wambora, the County Assembly had been served with a court order barring it from proceeding with the motion.

The Judges noted that the Assembly was duly served with the order but disobeyed it and continued to discuss Mr Wambora.

They passed the motion and took their resolution to the Senate.

Again, the Judges observed, the Assembly went against the rule of natural justice when they denied Mr Wambora a chance to defend himself.

"Assembly members did not give Mr Wambora the right to fair hearing. They just debated a motion of impeachment and passed it without granting him an opportunity to be heard.

The law of natural justice demands that no one should be condemned unheard," Ms Ong'udi said.

VIOLATED STANDING ORDERS

The Judges said the Assembly also violated its own standing orders which provide for a right to be heard before condemnation.

They observed that the Speaker of the County Assembly Mr Justus Mate and the Clerk of the Assembly should have brought to the attention of House the court order before the motion kicked off.

However they failed to do so and are liable to contempt of court.

The County Assembly on January 28, 2014 voted for Mr Wambora’s impeachment on allegations that he had violated the constitution.

The Assembly then forwarded its recommendations to the Senate which removed him.

The senate committee confirmed three charges out of five against Mr Wambora and said they had sufficient grounds to remove him.

It found Mr Wambora guilty of violating public procurement laws but absolved him of accusations of abuse of office.

The reinstated governor was represented in court by lawyers Paul Muite, Ahmednassir Abdullahi, Peter Wanyama, David Njoroge, Wilfred Nyamu and Issa Mansur.

VICTORY SONGS

After the court ruling, Mr Wambora's supporters burst into songs of victory.

They sang and danced saying the enemies of their leader had been defeated.

They held a peaceful procession in the streets of Kerugoya town before they escorted their leader to Embu where he made a triumphant entry.

It was all smiles for Mr Wambora who was in court as the Judges read their verdict in his favour

Mr Wambora said he was impressed by the verdict and vowed to focus on reconciliation and building his county.

Kirinyaga County governor Joseph Ndathi welcomed the ruling saying the court had demonstrated its competence in the delivery of justice and interpretation of the Constitution.

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