Embattled Muranga Governor Mwangi wa Iria lawyers, Paul Muite and Ng’ang’a Mbugua with council of Governor’s Peter Wanyama (center) consulting outside Milimani law courts building after high court dismissed application seeking to bar the senate from debating Iria’s impeachment motion on Tuesday November 3,2015.
BY SAM ALFAN.
High court has dismissed application by embattled Muranga governor Mwangi wa Iria seeking orders to stop the Senate from recommending his removal from office.
Justice Onguto on Tuesday while delivering his ruling indicated that Iria should not shy away from public scrutiny as due process was followed by the Murang’a County Assembly as outlined in the Constitution.
He further pointed out that the Senate is expected to protect the interest of the public and would ensure that transparency and accountability are upheld.
“The conduct of the County Assembly and the Senate should only raise the antennae of this court only if they do something perverse to normal conduct. In view of this the reserved question as to whether the petitioners are entitled to the conservatory orders sort must be answered to the negative.The application for conservatory orders fails for the reasons advanced and it is dismissed,” he ruled.
Justice Onguto explained that Iria’s right to a fair hearing was not violated since he did not attend any of the sittings by the County Assembly despite numerous invitations and that in his absence, the debate on the motion proceeded.
“There is no controversy that the first petitioner was notified of the intended motion. He was also invited to make representations of the intended motion and file appropriate evidence if any. The invite was made in writing on October 13th 2015. The motion was also attached to the letter,” the judge stated.
He observed that the Murang’a Governor was also given evidence in support of the motion.
“He was to attend the hearing when the matter was to come up in the Order Paper. He however did not attend. Instead, he wrote back and denied the allegations in the motion. He then sought for additional documents in support of the motion.”
The impeachment motion was tabled in the County Assembly on Tuesday by nominated MCA Ms Mary Waithirawho asked her comrades to get rid ofthe governor over alleged flouting of public finance management and procurement procedures.
In the motion, Ms Waithira saidthat the governor lacks accountability in management and use of the county’s resources and has incurred a debt of Sh2.5 billion which was never disclosed to the assembly.
He indicated the public interest favored the Senate and thus the impeachment process should be allowed to proceed.
“As the petitioner will not be prejudiced and as the petition will not be rendered nugatory and as public interest will favor the Senate, council of prudence would dictate that no conservatory orders are granted,” he said.
He stated that the court did not need to be involved in the process at that particular time.
“I find and hold that there are no exceptional circumstances proven or shown by the petitioner to warrant this court’s intervention. I find that there was nothing contrary to common logic to warrant judicial interference at this intermediary stage,” he said.
He emphasized the need for the rule of law to be observed in this instance.
“I have seen the documents filed in support of the petition. I have read them; I have also read the replying affidavits. There is no doubt that the first petitioner was entitled to be heard or to be given the opportunity to be heard as the process of the removal of a Governor is a quasi judicial process and the rules of natural justice must apply and be observed,” he stated.
Iria wanted the High Court to stop the Senate from considering the County Assembly’s resolution to impeach him.
The assembly voted for the ouster of Iria by a majority last month in response to accusations that he mismanaged public funds.
Iria’s lawyers, Paul Muite and Ng’ang’a Mbugua, as well as the Council of Governors’ Peter Wanyama had insisted that the County Assembly’s resolution to impeach him was unfair.
The lawyers had argued the assembly did not follow due process and had denied the county boss a hearing.
Muite had told the court that the allegations leveled against Governor Iria were made as a result of his refusal to be arm-twisted by members of the county assembly.
The axe fall on Murang’a Governor Mwangi wa Iria, on October 21 after the Assembly voted that he is no longer capable of being their county chief.
He becomes the second governor to be removed by members of the county assembly (MCAs), the first being Embu Governor Martin Wambora.
Governor wa Iria was on Wednesday shown the door by representatives of the people who in 2013 overwhelmingly voted him in.
He is now the second governor from the Jubilee coalition to be ousted through a ballot by members of his own political frank.
“Gakoigo stadium under the department of Youth and Sports was allocated Kshs.30 Million in the financial year 2014/2015, yet it had incurred a total debt of Sh59 Million and no monies had been paid,” the MCA said.
She also claimed that the action puts the county at a very precarious situation which may lead to auctioning of county assets.
Governor wa Iria is said to have allowed misappropriation of county funds by spending public money in private commercial entities.
Ms Waithira said that a report by the Auditor General on the financial operations of Murang’a county executive for the period, 1st July 2013 to 30 June 2014 showed that the County Executive contributed a total of Sh28.5 million to Murang’a Investment Co-operative Society (Shilingi-Kwa-Shilingi).
“The Society is an autonomous body independent of the County Executive and according to the Auditor General’s report; it was not clear therefore the circumstances under which the county Executive was funding it,” Ms Waithira said
She also claimed that in the County Governments Budget implementation review reports of the Controller of Budget, the County Executive under the stewardship of the County Governor incurred advertisement expenditure amounting to Sh247 Million against an approved budget of Sh7 Million as at 31st March 2015.
Governor Wairia was also accused of demanding money and not remitting the same to the tune of Sh125 million.
Ms Waithira also said that Mwangi wa Iria has been diverting public funds to non-devolved functions such as construction works at Kahuhia Girls amounting to Sh31 million and converting public primary schools into boarding schools.
The governor is also said to have used alternative procurement procedures to purchase a land along Kenol- Kabati Road, at a cost of Sh340 Million.
Additionally, he was blamed for borrowing a loan of Sh200 Million from Kenya Commercial Bank without guarantee by the National Treasury.
“The said loan was not factored in the Debt Strategy Paper of the County Government of Murang’a over the medium term expenditure framework,” the MCA said.
The Governor and his executive are said to have irregularly purchased 20,000 bales of Hay for cows at MariiraFarm at Sh4 million. “Investigations reveal that there was no documented evidence for release and delivery of the balesof Hay.”
Governor Wairia is as well accused of failing to remit statutory deductions of the defunct local authorities, which have continued to attract interest and penalties to a tune of Sh131.6 million.