High Court slams brakes on Ferdinand Waititu appointment to rivers commission

Former Kiambu Governor Ferdinand Waititu

Former Kiambu Governor Ferdinand Waititu. The High Court has suspended his swearing-in as a member of the Nairobi Rivers Commission, or any other public office.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

The High Court has suspended the decision by President William Ruto to appoint former Kiambu Governor Ferdinand Waititu to the Nairobi Rivers Commission following an integrity suit.

In the interim order issued by Justice Hedwig Ong’udi, the court suspended the swearing-in of Mr Waititu as a member of the commission or any other public office.

The orders will remain in force pending the determination of a suit filed by the Law Society of Kenya (LSK) and Transparency International.

The judge also directed that the case be consolidated with another one filed earlier by activist Peter Odhiambo Agoro challenging Mr Waititu’s role at the commission.

The two cases will be mentioned on February 27, before Justice Mugure Thande at Milimani, Nairobi, for consolidation and hearing directions.

According to the petitioners, the decision by President Ruto to appoint Mr Waititu to the commission is unlawful and should be quashed.

They have also questioned advice of the Attorney-General Justin Muturi to the President over the appointment, as they believe that Mr Waititu is incompetent to hold a State or public office having been impeached from the office of the governor.

According to Mr Agoro, Mr Waititu is unfit to hold public office for failing to satisfy moral and ethical requirements.

Citing a pending court case where Mr Waititu is being prosecuted alongside others over corruption, the activist claimed the politician lacks integrity and competence to hold the post as demanded by the Constitution.

He also based his petition on Mr Waititu’s impeachment from the office of governor of Kiambu for gross violation of the Constitution and abuse of a public office.

Mr Waititu was impeached in January 2020 and lost subsequent court cases to reverse the decision.

“Whilst well thought, the appointment of Mr Waititu flies in the face of the Constitution of Kenya, having been removed from office by impeachment as the governor of Kiambu by the Kiambu County Assembly, a decision upheld by the Senate on January 29, 2020,” said the lobby groups in the petition.

According to them, the Attorney-General ought to have advised President Ruto that such an appointment does not meet the ethical baselines for state officers and is incapable of being upheld by any court if challenged.

They also took on the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) for failing to challenge or ensure that Mr Waititu’s appointment is reversed.

“EACC is constitutionally mandated to supervise, implement and oversee Chapter Six of the Constitution in addition to the Leadership and Integrity Act. But it has failed, neglected and absconded their duty to do so, in ensuring that persons such as Mr Waititu are not appointed to any state/public office,” they said.

President Ruto announced the appointment of Mr Waititu to the Nairobi Rivers Commission through a Gazette Notice dated December 2, 2022.

The nine-member commission has been tasked to, among others, reclaim the rivers of Nairobi as a spine to the city’s blue and green infrastructure for a better urban environment and quality of life.