Members of the West Pokot County Assembly have impeached Speaker Catherine Mukenyang, accusing her of violating the Constitution and the law, gross misconduct and abuse of office.
In an eight-hour session on Tuesday, 25 MCAs voted to remove Ms Mukeyang with seven coming to her defence.
The chair of the session, deputy speaker Francis Krop, did not vote.
In a motion that was tabled by Endough Ward MCA Evanson Lomaduny and seconded by Minority Leader Peter Lokor, the MCAs resolved to remove Ms Mukenyang on four grounds.
In the motion, Mr Lomaduny cited abuse of office, gross violation of the Public Finance Management Act, gross violation of the Public Procurement and Disposal Act and gross misconduct as the offences for which he asked the House to send the Speaker home.
On abuse of office charges, the Speaker is accused of irregularly employing staff on contract of three years without following due recruitment process with a view of rewarding her political cronies.
She was further accused of embarking on early campaigns using county assembly vehicles.
Majority Leader Thomas Ng'olesya, in his contribution, said the Speaker had violated the law for assuming the role of the clerk, contrary to Section 13 (4) of the County Governments Act.
"She gave out directives that are administrative in nature and demanded that such orders be respected by everyone. The Speaker has even created a new centre of power to demean and sabotage the office of the clerk while the clerk is the custodian of all documents including board minutes," he said.
On gross misconduct charges, the Speaker was accused of inciting a section of county assembly staff to create violence and chaos.
“The county assembly Speaker should not have called upon county assembly staff to meet and plot to intimidate, harass or disobey the clerk or other staff. Instead, the Speaker should have acted as a symbol of unity and transparent leadership,” Mr Lomaduny noted.
The Speaker is also accused of having been paid Sh590,600 on March 21, 2018 without any justification.
Mr Josiah Yarakwang, the Kiwawa Ward MCA, said in 2018, the Speaker undertook the role of the clerk and she went ahead to approve expenditures despite the deputy clerk being in office at that time.
While she had been invited to defend herself in the morning, the Speaker chose the afternoon session when the MCAs were preparing to vote to table her defence.
Accompanied by her lawyer Eric Naibei, Ms Mukenyang excused herself to leave the session saying she was not feeling well.
The Speaker, who spoke to journalists after attending the morning session, said there were politicians behind her removal.
She accused the MCAs of not giving her enough time to defend herself.
Go to court
"I requested the members of the county assembly to give me seven days to prepare my defence but they refused to listen to me. I will go to court to challenge the impeachment motion,” Ms Mukeyang told journalists.
Mr Nabei said his client was not supplied with evidence to prove the allegations and that the law was not followed in the Speaker’s impeachment.
"We are headed to court to air our grievances. We hope to get justice from the court of law. They have violated her basic rights since she was not served with enough documents," said the lawyer.
At the assembly, nominated MCA Elijah Kasheusheu defended the Speaker, saying the impeachment motion was politically instigated and the grounds tabled could not be substantiated.
"The Speaker did her roles according to the law. There was no fairness in the impeachment process. We shall move to court to challenge her impeachment,” he said.
Nominated MCA Eunice Andiema said all the allegations tabled against the Speaker were false, adding that Ms Mukenyang was not working alone but had a board which approved employment of staff.
The impeachment comes after independence party Kanu last week moved to save Ms Mukenyang from an impeachment by threatening disciplinary action against ward reps.
In a letter dated August 30, 2021, Kanu Secretary-General Nick Salat directed MCAs to abstain from the motion, threatening disciplinary proceedings for those who would defy the order.
The disciplinary action, the party said, could lead to expulsion of any leader who would participate in the process to remove the county Speaker.
'It has come to the attention of the party that the honourable members of West Pokot county assembly have resolved to remove the Speaker from office through an impeachment. As a party, we have not deliberated the aforementioned matter within the sanctioned structures,” the letter stated.