How Waititu was felled by three women
Two wives and a widow. These are the three women who played a key role in Kiambu Governor Ferdinand Waititu’s downfall, which saw him impeached by senators on Wednesday evening over claims of gross violation of the Constitution, misconduct and abuse of office.
Waititu’s wives Susan Wangari and Esther Nyatu and Cecilia Njoki Mbugua, a Thika widow whose land he was accused of grabbing, featured prominently during his impeachment trial by the Senate.
The Senate was told that the abrasive politician dispossessed the widow of her property through blackmail and facilitated its transfer to Nyatu, his second wife, while Wangari benefited from multimillion-shilling tenders from the devolved government in a clear case of conflict of interest.
Also entangled in the mess that brought Waititu down were his three daughters, Ruth Njeri, Diana Wangoko and Ruth Mumbi, whose companies were awarded tenders by the governor.
The issues relating to the women, especially his wives and the widow, were discussed by the Senate, forcing the governor to disown members of his family and challenge his accusers to prove the two women were his wives.
Lawyer Nga’ng’a Mbugua challenged Ndenderu Member of County Assembly (MCA) Solomon Kinuthia, the governor’s chief accuser, to provide evidence that Wangari, Njeri, Wangoko and Mumbi were Waititu’s relatives.
“You have said that Susan (Wangari) is related to the governor by the virtue of being a husband and wife.
The question is, do you have a marriage certificate perhaps showing that indeed, this is Susan Wangari Ndung’u, ID (identification card number), that this is the wife of the governor,” charged Mbugua, a member of the governor’s legal team.
But Kinuthia, the MCA who was testifying, having moved the motion at the County Assembly, maintained that the two were the governor’s spouses and that he had attended Waititu and Wangari’s traditional wedding known as “ngurario” among members of the Kikuyu community at Ndondori in Nyandarua county.
Lawyer Nani Mungai, who was representing the County Assembly of Kiambu, anchored his submissions on allegations revolving around Waititu’s wives and daughters.
“The only thing one may commend Governor Waititu for, is that he does not discriminate. When it came to looting of public recourses and giving them to the wives, he gave each wife resources,” Mungai told senators.
One of the key pieces of evidence that helped convict Waititu of the three charges brought to the Senate was that he dispossessed Njoki, the widow, of her Sh100 million property in Thika town through blackmail, an offence which the county assembly’s lawyer and some senators described as “ungodly”.
“This is one of the offences which really, apart from breaching the Constitution, Article 40, the right to property, apart from breaching the law in terms of abuse of office, is contrary to the Bible.
Exodus tells us; do not oppress a widow and if you do, the wrath of God shall be upon you. This (Waititu) is a man who has not only breached the law but is not afraid of the wrath of God,” Mungai charged.
Kisii Senator Sam Ongeri described the disinheriting of the widow as a grave offence that was sufficient to send the governor packing.
“What can be gross misconduct other than depriving a widow of her only means of subsistence by forcing her to bring about a change of a title deed. I am fully persuaded that he needs to go home,” he said.
In the case, the widow got her property back after the intervention of the Commission on Administrative Justice (Ombudsman).
Her problems started after she successfully applied for county approval to develop her property in 2013, only for the letter to be cancelled on grounds that it was public land, earmarked for construction of a jua kali market by the county government.
However, she successfully challenged the position at the Milimani courts in Nairobi but in another effort to frustrate her, Waititu forwarded her properties to the National Land Commission (NLC) for investigations as soon as the period for appeal was over.
In December 2017, she received a call from Waititu’s office informing her that the governor wanted to see her regarding the approvals, and during their meeting he promised to approve them on condition that she surrendered two of the properties.
According to her testimony at the Ombudsman, Njoki said she agreed to surrender her land in Thika “under a lot of duress considering the fact that it had taken long to get the approval”.
A search conducted on the land on August 31, 2012 shows that it belonged to Njoki. A Green Card was tabled before the Senate as proof.
But on January 2, 2018, a certificate of lease was issued in favour of Esther Wamuyu Nyatu, the governor’s second wife.
On September 23, 2019, the transfers were cancelled in favour of the widow and a certificate of lease issued under her name following the Ombudsman’s intervention.
Isiolo Senator Fatuma Dullo, who is the Deputy Majority Leader, said the governor’s plot to grab the widow’s property was unforgivable.
“I will not forgive Governor Waititu for dispossessing a widow,” Dullo said.
Her sentiments were echoed by Homa Bay Senator Moses Kajwang’ who termed Waititu’s action immoral.
“I can live with other infractions ranging from pending bills, the wage bill and governors appointing people directly... but the one thing that I cannot live with is dispossession of a widow of her inheritance,” Kajwang’ said.
The governor was also convicted of using his position to influence the award of tenders to his relatives.
Sugawa Limited, where Waititu’s wife Wangari is the sole director, was awarded a tender of the construction of the Kiambu bus terminus.
Wangari is Waititu’s co-accused in another graft case relating to county tenders.
Connex Logistic Africa Limited, another firm linked to Wangari, was also awarded a tender to supply tyres for county vehicles.
Waititu was forced to defend his daughter Njeri at the Senate over claims that she was found with Sh100 million in her bank account last year.
Njeri was also awarded a tender to supply tyres through her Modiba Management Services.
And for her part, Wangoko, the director of Beedee Management Services, supplied garbage skips while Mumbi who together with a John Mwangi Kimani owns Bins Management Services, supplied tyres, first aid kits, water pipes and garbage collection protective equipment.