Kenya: Senate Summons Nyagarama Over Graft, Nepotism Claims

27 February 2020

The political drama in Nyamira County is headed to the Senate after residents accused Governor John Nyagarama of mismanagement and nepotism.

This comes amidst wrangles between the governor, his deputy Amos Nyaribo and a section of Nyamira County Assembly members.

TROUBLE

The move has compounded Mr Nyagarama's troubles in his second and final term.

Following a petition by Reuben Kibegwa Mageuzi, the Senate's Justice, Legal Affairs and Human Rights Committee has summoned the governor to appear before it on March 5, 2020.

The governor has also been accused of irregular recruitment of staff and failure to adhere to the Public Procurement and Disposal Act.

Mr Mageuzi had last week attempted to withdraw the petition but the Senate still demanded answers from the county chief.

Nyamira Senator Okong'o Omogeni said the petitioner filed an affidavit to withdraw his case against the governor, allegations Mr Mageuzi disputed.

WITHDRAW PETITION

"The attempt was an act in futility as the Senate does not have rules allowing withdrawal of a petition. It will be heard and any resident of Nyamira is at liberty to tender evidence," said Mr Omogeni.

The petitioner has been criticised by a section of Nyamira residents who have accused him of being compromised to pervert justice.

Under Article 119(1) of the Constitution, every person has a right to petition Parliament to consider any matter within its authority, including to enact, amend or repeal any legislation.

The issues raised in the said petition are that the County Government of Nyamira has not adhered to the provisions of the Constitution on the Public Procurement and Disposal Act, which states that all projects should be procured through a competitive process.

CORRUPTION

The governor has also been accused of corruption, incompetence, impunity, clannism, nepotism, cronyism and plunder of public resources.

The petitioner claims the county leadership has disregarded affirmative action programmes to ensure that minorities and marginalised groups are not represented in the county government.

In his petition, Mr Mageuzi claimed that the county assembly has contravened Article 201 of the Constitution on the principles of public finance regarding transparency.

"That the county government has shown undue favouritism towards relatives and funders of gubernatorial campaigns. This has led to the hiring of personal staff without proof of academic and professional qualifications," says the petition.

"The issues in respect of which this petition is made are not pending before any court of law, or constitutional or legal body," said the petitioner.

Before filing the notice of withdrawal, the petitioner wanted the Senate to intervene and address the issues raised.

STRAINED RELATIONS

But Mr Nyagarama is yet to renew contracts for his entire Cabinet. The county chief and his deputy have been at loggerheads with the latter publicly telling off his boss over alleged illegal recruitments in the county.

Mr Nyagarama, who recently talked about strained relations with his deputy, promised to engage Mr Nyaribo in a bid to resolve their differences. However, he appeared to stamp his authority, saying he is the only one with powers to employ and sack county staff.

"A deputy governor cannot sack or employ people in the county, even when the governor is away," said Mr Nyagarama.

According to the County Governments Act, a deputy governor discharges all the duties pertaining to those of a governor as stated in the Constitution, with the exception of nominating, appointing or dismissing county officials, a task that is only assigned to the governor.

The governor has lately found himself on the receiving end with other leaders from the county also blaming him over stalled projects despite continuous allocation of funds.

Mr Omogeni and North Mugirango MP Joash Nyamoko alleged impropriety in the county including skewed hiring of staff and called on the governor to correct the mess.

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