Wa Iria says Murang’a MCAs out to victimise him over funds denial

Murang’a governor Mwangi wa Iria on Wednesday appeared before a Senate committee to defend himself against the county assembly’s decision to remove him from office over alleged misappropriation of funds.

Mr Iria, through his lawyers, denied charges levelled against him, saying he was a victim of mischief, ill will and ulterior motives from the Members of the County Assembly (MCAs).

The governor said he has not violated the Constitution as alleged by the MCAs and he was being targeted for impeachment after declining to sanction abuse of funds by the ward representatives.

Ng’ang’a Mbugua, one of Mr Iria’s lawyers, cited a case where the governor declined to approve Sh700 million to be channelled towards the county’s Ward Development Fund, saying that the MCAs should not be involved in the implementation of projects.

Mr Mbugua told the special 11-member Committee constituted to investigate his proposed removal from office that the allegations do not meet the constitutional threshold for impeachment.

“Impeachment is a process that should be used as a measure of last resort after exhausting all oversight mechanisms,” Mr Mbugua said during the committee’s meeting with the County Assembly and the county executive members at the County Hall, Nairobi.

The governor appeared composed and sometimes smiled as his lawyers engaged the county assembly officials during the sessions.

He is facing charges of gross violation of the Constitution, committing serious crimes under the national laws and abuse of office and gross misconduct.

READ: Wa Iria’s fate in hands of Senate after losing petition against ouster

Mbuthi Gathenji, the county assembly’s legal counsel, accused the governor of high-handedness and working alone instead of consulting the leadership of the county, including the assembly.

“He (the governor)o-operated only for less than six months before he became arrogant and a know-it -all governor, and the epitome of impunity,” he said during his opening remarks to the committee.

He accused wa Iria of making pertinent decisions without consulting the county officials and the electorate, leading the county to incur unnecessary debts. He also claimed the governor used taxpayers’ cash on private matters and projects not approved by the county.

But Mr Mbugua told the committee chaired by Kitui Senator David Musila that the impeachment process was hurried and the procedural guidelines were not followed.

He urged the Senate to be wary of county assemblies that impeach governors on frivolous grounds, saying the mechanisms for removal of a governor can be abused.