New challenge to Waititu post at river agency

Wednesday, January 25th, 2023 06:35 | By
Waititu's Ksh588M graft case hearing date set
Former Kiambu governor Ferdinand Waititu. PHOTO/Courtesy.

A second suit has been lodged at the High Court challenging President William Ruto’s decision to appoint former Kiambu Governor Ferdinand Waititu to the Nairobi Rivers Commission over integrity issues. 

The petition filed yesterday by Law Society of Kenya (LSK) and Transparency International-Kenya wants the court to quash the President’s decision and declare that Waititu is unfit to serve in the commission for failing to satisfy moral and ethical requirements.

They also seek orders stopping Waititu from assuming office at the commission, and indefinitely at any public office, citing a pending court case where he is being prosecuted alongside others over graft. 

The lobby groups claim the politician lacks integrity and competence to hold the post, as demanded by the Constitution. “Waititu is incompetent of any appointment by the Head of State, either upon the advice of the Attorney General or otherwise on his own motive. He lacks the moral aptitude, ethical grounding, beyond-reproach integrity and has a greatly questionable character … ”, they argue.

The petitions are also based on Waititu’s impeachment from the office of Kiambu governor for gross violation of the Constitution and abuse of a public office. 

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

The two petitioners, through lawyer Gichohi Waweru, further argue that the Attorney General ought to have advised the Head of State that such appointment flies in the face of Constitutionalism and does not meet the ethical baselines for State officers, and is incapable of being upheld by any court if challenged.

End the folly

“The AG ought to have advised that such an appointment of Baba Yao makes folly of the gains made in promoting Chapter Six of the Constitution, and the national values and principles of leadership espoused within the Constitution and enabling laws,” the two state.

They add: “The only viable solution is for the court to put an end to all this by stopping Waititu from assuming office, and the AG to be compelled to advise the government as such and for them to desist from continuing in their folly.”

Waweru says unless the court moves in haste to stay the implementation of the Gazette Notice on the appointment and/or, in the alternative, the swearing-in, the gains made in protecting the Constitution shall be lost, and no quashing of the actions in future could offer complete reparation.  

The pending graft case involves Sh588 million road construction contracts awarded to a contractor by Kiambu County government during Waititu’s tenure. 

Waititu, his wife Susan Wangari and their trading companies, also face a Sh1.94 billion forfeiture suit lodged by the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC). In that case, EACC is seeking to recover properties and money in bank accounts totalling Sh1,937,709,376 on the basis that they are unexplained wealth amassed illegally by Waititu and his kin.

However, they have since defended the wealth saying it is legitimate and was acquired from their business ventures.

This latest suit comes three weeks after activist Peter Odhiambo Agoro lodged a similar case challenging Waititu’s appointment. Last month, Waititu, was  appointed by President Ruto to be a member of the Nairobi Rivers Commission, together with eight others namely, Pamela Olet, Mumo Musuva, Grace Senewa, Eva Muhia, Elizabeth Wathuti, Carlota Dal Lago, Elijah Biama and Duncan Ojwang

According to the Gazette notice, the mandate of the commission is to “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.”

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