County Governors have filed a case in court to challenge a ruling barring them from accessing their offices once they are charged with corruption.
High Court Justice James Makau on Tuesday certified the petition as urgent and directed the Deputy Registrar of the Constitutional and Human Rights Division to send the file to Chief Justice David Maraga to appoint a bench of not less than three judges to hear and determine the petition filed by the Council of Governors (CoG).
CoG has listed the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC), and the Inspector-General of Police as respondents in the case.
CoG in documents filed in court claims that Governors have been “targeted for prosecution and constructively removed from office in breach of the constitutional removal provisions and procedures.”
In an affidavit, CoG Chairman Wycliffe Oparanya says that charged Governors are being barred from accessing their offices indefinitely, adding that there is no supporting law to provide for the duration and status of the governor during the ‘stepping aside’ period. He adds that the law does not state whether a charged governor can perform any executive functions during the period.
“The concept of stepping aside has presented major difficulties in the running of county government operations. It has created paralysis and confusion in the performance of county government functions thereby undermining service delivery and the objectives of devolution,” notes Oparanya.
“Why the continued fascination that the office of the Governor remains a crime scene? Simply prosecute the matter in Court. Why the side-show? How will ‘stepping aside’ from office help DPP’s case in court when investigative agencies have already completed investigations?” he adds.
Governors have also questioned why other elected leaders including MPs and MCAs are not asked to step aside when indicted for graft.
“Members of Parliament, MCAs, and Governors are all elected persons. They are elected through universal adult suffrage. When charged in Court, DPP only pushes the stepping aside narrative for governors. He does not advance the stepping aside of elected MPs who play a role in the management of National Government Constituency Development Funds,” reads the court documents.
Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko, Okoth Obado (Migori), Moses Lenolkulal (Samburu), Ali Korane (Garissa), and Muthomi Njuki (Tharaka Nithi) are the governors who were blocked from accessing their offices until the graft cases facing them are heard and determined.