Governor Ferdinand Waititu arrives at the Milimani Court on July 30. [Collins Kweyu, Standard]

The anti-corruption court barred Waititu from accessing his offices pending conclusion of the corruption charges against him.
Chief magistrate, Lawrence Mugambi, gave the order against Waititu following a precedence set by High Court Judge Mumbi Ngugi that directed Samburu Governor Moses Lenolkulal not to step in his office unless authorised by anti-graft agency CEO Twalib Mbarak.But the orders brought into sharp focus the legal question on whether and how an elected leader should step a side when facing charges in court, with Waititu’s lawyer, Tom Ojienda insisting that the governor will still continue performing his official duties albeit from remote locations.“The ruling did not stop him from being the governor. He was only stopped from accessing his office and can therefore choose to work from home or set up another office to do his work. A governor does not necessarily need an office to do his work,” said Prof Ojienda.

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The magistrate, however, stated that barring Waititu from accessing his office did not amount to removing him from office but was meant to protect the integrity of the court process and ensure he did not interfere with evidence or witnesses.“This, however, does not amount to removal from office but to ensure the court process is protected given the offence he allegedly committed took place in his office,” ruled Mugambi.Governor Waititu yesterday spent the night at Industrial Area Remand Prison after failing to raise a cash bail of Sh15 million to secure his freedom.Waititu’s woes deepened further when his deputy James Nyoro announced that he was taking over the leadership of the county hours after the court barred his boss from office.His deputy first chaired a cabinet meeting which lasted for about three hours before addressing the media at the county headquarters.

Stepping in

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Announcing that he was stepping in for his boss, Mr Nyoro said his first cabinet meeting deliberated on issues that will be given priority in the coming days.He was quick to point out that he was not staging a coup against the governor but was following the constitution which he said is clear that the deputy governor takes over in the absence of the governor.“I want to tell the people of Kiambu that there is no vacuum or gap and all the services and programmes of the county government will continue to be provided for,” he said.“I wish the governor well and wish the judicial process is going to be fast and efficient so that we do not delay. We will only be in office for the time that the governor will be away. If there is an appeal or the case ends we are ready to welcome him back,” he said.

Press conference

Nyoro was flanked by the entire cabinet, staff and ward reps during the press briefing. He said his administration’s first priority would be improving revenue collection by sealing the existing loopholes.

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Earlier, ward reps had called press conference where they announced on plans to impeach Governor Waititu.Biashara ward rep, Elijah Njoroge said he was preparing a motion to oust the governor from office claiming that this was “70 per cent complete.”“In two weeks’ time the motion will be ready for tabling in the County Assembly. We will definitely send him home and ensure he will no longer be a governor,” he said.Mr Mugambi ruled that Waititu’s absence would not cause a vacuum in the governor’s office since his deputy will be available to perform official functionsMugambi reiterated that Section 62 (2) of the Anti-Corruption and Economic Crimes Act (ACECA) was inconsistent with provisions of Chapter Six of the Constitution as it entrenched corruption in institutions by shielding constitutional office holders.

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Kiambu County Chief Officer for Roads and Transport Luka Mwangi Waihinya and businessman Charles Mbuthia Chege were also released on a cash bail of Sh15 million each.Chege’s wife, Beth Wangeci Mburu, was released on a Sh4 million cash bail while Kiambu County’s tender committee members, Zacharia Mbugua, Joyce Ngina, Simon Kang’ethe, Anslem Wanjiku and Samuel Muigai were each granted Sh1 million bail.All of the accused were also ordered to deposit all their travel documents.The magistrate directed that the case be mentioned on August 26 to set a hearing date.

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Related Topics
High CourtSamburu Governor Moses LenolkulalGovernor Ferdinand Waititu