Kihika ‘not a Kenyan citizen’, petitioner tells EACC

Nakuru Senator Susan Kihika will be seeking to fight it out with incumbent Lee Kinyanjui and State House comptroller Kinuthia Mbugua, among others.

Photo credit: Pool | Nation Media Group

Nakuru Senator Susan Kihika is staring at a fresh hurdle, after a petitioner wrote a letter to the anti-graft watchdog seeking to block her bid to unseat Governor Lee Kinyanjui.

Joseph Kimani Njuguna, in a letter to the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) that the Nation has seen, claims that Senator Kihika is not a Kenyan citizen and her bid for the governor's seat is unconstitutional.

Mr Njuguna wants Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) chairman Wafula Chebukati to bar Ms Kihika from running for public office.

"Susan Wakarura Kihika is a citizen of the United States of America. She acquired the citizenship by renouncing her Kenyan citizenship in 2003. She is therefore not suitable to vie for any seat," reads the letter copied to the IEBC.

“Having lost her Kenya citizenship, the said Susan Wakahura Kihika was required under section 10 of the Citizenship and Immigration Act Cap 172 of the laws of Kenya to apply in the prescribed manner in order to regain citizenship of Kenya,” the petitioner argues.

He states that Section 8(4) of the Citizenship and Immigration Act makes it an offence for a dual citizen not to disclose their other citizenship in the prescribed manner.

Mr Njuguna argues that Ms Kihika, though not a Kenyan citizen, has held the positions of Nakuru County Assembly Speaker (2013-2017) and senator (2017-present), contravening the Constitution.

"I contend that she became Speaker, senator and is now seeking to become governor in contravention of the Constitution and other statutory provisions of the law," he states.

“I therefore request that Ms Kihika be barred from contesting the upcoming general election of August 9, 2022 in the position of Governor Nakuru County.”

Under Section 25 of the Elections Act, he argues, a person shall be disqualified from being elected as member of a county assembly if he or she has not been a Kenyan citizen for at least 10 years preceding the elections.

Mr Njuguna claims Ms Kihika arrived in Kenya in 2012 and was appointed Speaker of the Nakuru County Assembly in a contravention of the Constitution.

The letter was received by the EACC on June 21.

But Senator Kihika, in a quick rejoinder on her Facebook page, described the petition as a plot by desperate politicians to bar her from contesting, quoting Exodus 14:14: "The Lord will fight for you, you need only to be still."

"When they sense defeat their desperation knows no limits," she wrote.

This is not the first time the firebrand senator is facing such a petition.

In 2019, activist Okiya Omtatah wrote to the EACC, asking the body to investigate 10 sitting MPs and one former legislator who, he claimed, served his term while allegedly holding a foreign passport.

Mr Omtatah claimed the MPs were dual citizens.

EACC chief executive Twalib Mbarak received the petition and promised to investigate the matter.

“EACC has launched investigations to verify these allegations with a view to taking appropriate action against the public officers in accordance with the law,” said Mr Mbarak in a statement at the time.

“Such action could include initiating [a mechanism for removing offenders] from office for violating Chapter Six of the Constitution.”

But the outcome of the investigations has not been revealed.

In 2017, Ms Kihika faced a similar petition from former nominated ward rep Margaret Kiiru, but she was cleared by the IEBC to contest the Senate seat that she now holds.

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