Ferdinand Waititu Baba Yao was impeached as Kiambu Governor on Wednesday night, following an overwhelming vote by the Senate.
This follows proceedings, for two days, on charges brought against him by Kiambu County Assembly Members who accused him of abuse of office and other crimes.
Debate ahead of the vote was so charged and openly displayed political differences affiliated to the Tanga Tanga and Kieleweke–associated with Deputy President William Ruto and his boss President Uhuru Kenyatta, and which have been fuelled lately by the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI).
Majority of the Senators voted for the motion seeking to validate his impeachment by Kiambu County Assembly, despite concerns on whether it met the legal threshold from a section of legislators.
Waititu was facing three charges among them gross violation of the constitution, abuse of office and crime under the national law.
During the debate on Wednesday night, leaders did not shy away to indicate how they would vote even as some dismissed the process as politically-motivated.
Waititu is already facing corruption charges, with a magistrate having ordered that he stays away from office until his case is heard and determined.
On Wednesday night, the Senate voted 29-11 in support of the charge on Gross Violation of the Constitution; County Government Act and the Public Finance Management Act and Public Procurement and Disposal Act.
28 senators supported the Crimes under National Law charge against 11 who opposed.
On the Abuse of Office/Gross Misconduct charge; 28 Senators voted in support while 11 opposed.
But the case of depriving a widow a parcel of land seemed to be the persuading factor, as most senators said it was ‘inhuman, shameful and criminal’.
This follows an investigation and subsequent recommendation by the Commission on Administrative Justice (CAJ) which ruled that a prime property belonging to Cecilia Mbugua was fraudulently transferred allegedly to his wife through the Office of the Governor and the Governor himself.
Waititu becomes the second county boss to be impeached by the Senate after Embu Governor Martin Wambora was removed in 2014.
The Senators voted to remove the Governor from office by way of impeachment on the following charges (1) Gross Violation of the Constitution; County Government Act and the Public Finance Management Act and Public Procurement and Disposal Act and (2) Crimes under National Law, (3) Abuse of Office/Gross Misconduct.
The Governor had on Wednesday afternoon pleaded with the Senators to throw out the impeachment process because it was flawed and built on hearsay and propaganda.
“It is ungodly for me, who has worked so hard to get to where I am, to be removed just like that, unceremoniously maybe because I am not in the right position in your politics,” he pleaded, “With our politics, who knows about tomorrow? Tomorrow I may be with you, so I beseech you, don’t judge me on what happened or what is prevailing now. Please handle my case like any other case.”
He further stated: “The lady that alleged that I participated in malpractice has not made any complaint in any police station.
The lady was not called to testify. “In her affidavit that was read here, the lady did not mention me; it mentioned some county officials, not me…not Waititu. Again, the authors of that document – the Ombudsman – were not called in this Assembly to testify that it is true that that document is genuine from their office.”
The county boss was impeached by 63 MCAs who voted in support of Ndenderu MCA Solomon Kinuthia’s motion that accused Waititu of abetting corruption, conflict of interest, claiming the governor’s family was doing business with the county, and over-budgeting in the roads department for kick-backs.
Senate Minority Leader James Orengo and his Whip Mutula Kilonzo Junior said Waititu had been done in by his defence team which failed to put up a strong defence despite having one and half months before appearing in the Senate.
Nairobi Senator Johnson Sakaja also stated that Waititu had been misled by his lawyer, while Kisii Senator Professor Sam Ongeri and Deputy Majority Leader Fatuma Dullo said those who oppose the motion “should not speak on issues to deal with pending bills in the county, audit reports and other forms of mismanagement being exhibited in the counties.”
Senate Majority Leader Kipchumba Murkomen, Whip Susan Kihika (Nakuru), Aaron Cheruiyout (Kericho) and Samson Cherargey (Nandi) warned that history will judge the Senate harshly for turning a blind eye to the process not being followed and decided the matter along political lines.
Of the last seven impeachments that have been handled by the Senate, only Wambora was found guilty of the accusations against him and his impeachment was confirmed. He, however, contested the decision in court and his impeachment was quashed.
Kericho Governor Paul Chepkwony, Mwangi Wa Iria (Muranga), the late Nderitu Gachugua (Nyeri), Bernard Kiala (Machakos Deputy Governor) and Granton Samboja (Taita Taveta) kept their jobs after the accusations against them were dropped by the Senators.
Waititu had earlier suffered a major blow after the Senate rejected his bid to introduce new evidence to fight impeachment proceedings.
Speaker Lusaka ruled that Waititu cannot be allowed to tender fresh evidence after the stipulated period lapsed.
Waititu had three days to file all his defenses and responses after the Kiambu County Assembly filed impeachment charges in the Senate.