Nairobi County MCAs on Thursday unanimously impeached Speaker Beatrice Elachi, whom they accused of abuse of office and sabotage of assembly operations.
However, Ms Elachi’s lawyer rushed to the Labour Court Thursday evening and obtained temporary orders suspending her impeachment.
Justice Maureen Onyango certified the matter as urgent and issued a conservatory order stopping the assembly and its service board from removing Ms Elachi from office or appointing a new nominee until all the parties are heard.
The case will be heard on Tuesday next week. Her removal happened despite efforts from various quarters to try and save her. There were claims that ODM leader Raila Odinga had asked his party’s leadership at the assembly to whip Opposition MCAs to seek for the adjournment of the special sitting in bid to save Elachi.
However, MCAs drawn from both Jubilee and National Super Alliance (Nasa) in a record attendance ever seen in any of the sittings in the current assembly voted to throw out Ms Elachi, who is only a year-old in the position.
“A majority of members have voted for the impeachment motion, therefore, Speaker Beatrice Elachi stands impeached. From today (Thursday), Beatrice Elachi is no longer the Speaker of the County Assembly of Nairobi,” said Deputy Speaker John Kamangu.
The ward representatives voted in their numbers to surpass the two-thirds constitutional threshold of 85 members needed for such a motion to go through as cheers and shouts of ‘yes’ rent the air in the assembly. Some 103 MCAs out of 122 members supported the motion as two opposed and two others abstained.
To show the magnitude of their grievances and their urgency to see the motion go through, the ward reps amended several sections of the Standing Orders to expedite the process.
The orders require that for a Speaker to be removed from her seat, a three-day notice of motion should be given.
An ad hoc committee is then formed to investigate the Speaker and if the committee is satisfied with the grounds of the removal, it should give the assembly ago ahead to debate the motion.
The MCAs, however, seemingly aware of the requirements, amended all the clauses paving way for the impeachment process to go on the very day of issuing the notice of motion.
The ouster motion was tabled by Waithaka ward MCA Anthony Kiragu, who listed a number of violations by the Speaker, including conflict of interest, undermining the authority of the County Assembly Service Board, abuse of office/gross misconduct as well as violation of Chapter Six of the constitution on responsibilities of leadership.
On Wednesday, a total of 108 members signed the petition that called for the removal of Ms Elachi from office.
According to the motion, she was accused of quoting in excess of Sh25 million in the purchase of the Speaker’s residence, which was valued at Sh100 million while also interfering, influencing and even threatening the assembly staff to award the tender to her close relative.
According to the MCAs, Ms Elachi unilaterally appointed accounting officers without consulting the board. She is also further accused of using Sh550,000 of taxpayers’ money to travel to Dubai to be awarded an honorary degree by the London Graduate School, which they claimed to be fake.
Ms Elachi denied the allegations accusing the MCAs of witch hunt. “I know they are frustrated. They have loans, have not received their salaries but we cannot vent frustration this way. I want to plead with the members to look at country’s financial situation. We do not have resources,” she said.