Three lawyers representing Kitui Governor Charity Ngilu were Monday assaulted and forcefully ejected from the county assembly grounds in a day of drama as political tensions between the two sides escalated.
Martin Oloo, Morris Kimuli and Stanley Kiima, who had gone to respond to summons requiring Governor Ngilu to appear before the assembly, were roughed up and thrown out by orderlies.
Drama started when the lawyers were intercepted as they walked towards Speaker George Ndotto's office.
When Mr Ndotto, whose office is strategically perched on the first floor with a clear view of the main gate, saw the lawyers entering, he immediately ordered the Sergeant-at-Arms to evict them.
The orderlies assaulted the lawyers leaving Mr Kimuli with back injuries as they enforced Mr Ndotto’s order. The lawyers reported an assault case at Kitui Police Station.
The Speaker’s summons dated June 23 required the governor to appear before the assembly either in person or through a legal counsel to answer to the allegations in an impeachment motion.
With the impeachment process halted by the High Court and the summons not officially withdrawn by the Speaker, Governor Ngilu dispatched her legal team to protest alleged bias by Mr Ndotto.
In a demand letter, her lawyers accused Mr Ndotto and Assembly Clerk Elijah Mutambuki of being openly biased instead of serving as neutral arbiters.
“You seem to be biased against the governor and to be acting with malice. Instead of being a public servant, you have assumed the role of the mover of the motion by purporting to issue the notice of motion,” read the letter addressed to Mr Mutambuki.
The lawyers also questioned the motive of a public notice the clerk published in one of the dailies, asking people to fill a public participation questionnaire on the impeachment motion without revealing their identities.
“By making the questionnaire interviewee reports anonymous, you have designed a scheme to falsify and generate fake data that only you can account for, and this offends the spirit of the Constitution on the need for transparency” states the letter seen by the Nation.
The lawyers demanded that Governor Ngilu be furnished with a proper notice of motion that conforms with the assembly’s Standing Orders, and a list of at least two thirds of MCAs who have signed the verification forms.
Ms Ngilu condemned the attack on her lawyers, accusing Mr Ndotto, who unsuccessfully tried to unseat her as Kitui Central MP in four consecutive elections, of malice and pursuing a political vendetta against her.
“If this is a proper and legitimate impeachment motion, why resort to such draconian and shameless measures of assaulting my lawyers,” Ms Ngilu said, adding the assembly grounds were not private premises for the Speaker to choose whom to admit.
The governor said the “political witch-hunt and conspiracy between the Speaker and Wiper MCAs to frustrate me through the impeachment motion” is evidenced by the manner in which Mr Ndotto is handling the issue.
Mr Oloo said it was wrong for Mr Ndotto to order their forceful ejection from the assembly as it is a public space and noted that they were responding to his summons.
“This smacks of dictatorship, absurdity and abuse of office. We were meters away from where he was standing but instead of welcoming us to his office, he ordered askaris to chase us away as if we had intruded into his private home” said Mr Oloo.
Contacted for comment, Mr Ndotto said the assembly is a restricted area and that the lawyers’ presence created an unnecessary disturbance.,
The Speaker also said they had to be removed because as counsels for Ms Ngilu, they had no business being there when the court had halted the impeachment.
Last week, the High Court barred the assembly from tabling and debating the impeachment motion against the governor.
Justice Weldon Korir of the Milimani High Court issued conservatory orders stopping the impeachment process until the governor’s case is heard and determined.
Governor Ngilu moved to court on June 25, seeking to halt the impeachment process. She sued the assembly, Speaker and clerk, who are listed as the first, second and third respondents, respectively.
The county boss argued that her constitutional rights under Articles 27, 28, 40, 47 and 50 of the Constitution have been violated by plans by Majority Leader and Athi ward MCA Peter Kilonzo to table the motion.
Ms Ngilu told the court that she had been condemned unheard and that her rights to fair administrative action and a fair hearing, under Article 47 of the Constitution, were being infringed upon by the assembly.
Justice Korir gave Ms Ngilu a temporary reprieve of about 12 days, suspending the tabling, debating and consideration of the impeachment motion by assembly members.
An inter-partes' hearing will take place on July 6.