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Kiambu Governor Waititu appeals against bail ruling

Wednesday July 31 2019

Kiambu Governor Ferdinand Waititu

Kiambu Governor Ferdinand Waititu at the Milimani Law Courts on July 29, 2019. He was charged with six counts over a Sh588 million irregular tender. PHOTO | DENNIS ONSONGO | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

SAM KIPLAGAT
By SAM KIPLAGAT
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Kiambu Governor Ferdinand Waititu has moved to the High Court seeking a review of his bail conditions, saying the terms are "excessive, harsh and unjustified."

He further wants the court to determine the effect of barring him from office, arguing it violated the laws.

While granting Mr Waititu and his co-accused bail on Tuesday, Chief Magistrate Lawrence Mugambi directed that the governor, Mr Zacharia Njenga Mbugua and Ms Joyce Ngina Musyoka post Sh15 million cash bail or a bond of Sh30 million each to secure their release.

Susan Wangari, the governor's wife, was directed to deposit Sh4 million at the court, while the rest of the accused persons were granted cash bail of Sh1 million each.

Mr Waititu, alongside his wife and senior county government officials were charged in Milimani Law Courts with irregularly awarding tenders amounting to Sh588 million.

All the suspects spent another night in the cells after they failed to secure their freedom by Tuesday evening, even though some had deposited the money.

APPEAL

Through their lawyer Tom Ojienda, they argue that the bond terms and conditions placed by Mr Mugambi are excessive and amount to a “constructive denial of bail without compelling reasons”.

Prof Ojienda argues in the court documents that the directive barring Mr Waititu from accessing the Kiambu County offices, effectively removes him as a governor in violation of Section 62(6) of the Anti-Corruption and Economic Crimes Act (Aceca) and Section 33 of the County Governments Act, 2012.

Section 62(1) of the Aceca provides that a public or state officer who is charged with corruption or economic crime shall be suspended at half pay until the conclusion of the case, so long as the case is concluded within two years.

While, Section 62(6) of Aceca states that the above section does not apply to an office if the Constitution limits or provides for the grounds upon which the holder may be removed or circumstances in which the office must be vacated.

Article 181(2), 182(d) and Section 33 of the County Governments Act, 2012, provides the process in which a governor may be removed from office.

ABUSE OF OFFICE

In the petition, Prof Ojienda wants bail terms reviewed downwards after it determines whether they are excessive, harsh and unjustifiable. He also seeks the determination of the effect of barring Mr Waititu from accessing his office.

Last week, Justice Mumbi Ngugi barred Samburu Governor Moses Lenolkulal from accessing his office stating that Section 62(6) Aceca, in her view, violates the Constitution.

The judge said apart from obfuscating, the said section helps obliterate the "political hygiene" and contrary to the provisions of the constitutional requirement of integrity in governance and against the national values as well as principles of leadership and integrity.

She reasoned that a county governor, to whom Article 10 and Chapter Six of the Constitution apply, is charged with abuse of office, which is basically enriching himself at the expense of the people. 

"Would it serve the public interest for him to go back to office and preside over the finances of the county that he has been charged with embezzling?" the judge posed.

Meanwhile, Kiambu Deputy Governor James Nyoro Tuesday took over the operations of the county and maintained he is the new boss as long as Governor Ferdinand Waititu is away.