Authors: Kepher Otieno and Anyango Otieno
AfricaPress-Kenya: ODM yesterday ordered the immediate impeachment of Migori Governor Okoth Obado who is facing corruption charges.
In a decision arrived at in Nairobi, Migori MCAs who are members of ODM and the party leadership agreed to boot the second-term governor whose tenure has been characterised by controversies. Out of the 41 invited MCAs, 37 attended the meeting.
Migori has 40 wards and ODM has 41 MCAs — 27 elected and 15 nominated. The remaining 13 were elected on other parties or as independents.
“Due to corruption charges leveled against Obado and the decision by the court to bar him from accessing his office, the party, in consultation with county MCAs has resolved to have a motion of impeachment against the governor initiated immediately,” ODM chair John Mbadi said.
The party also resolved to have Deputy Governor Mahanga Mwita take over the responsibility of running the county. Mbadi, after a day-long meeting with the MCAs, called on Obado to resign, saying the legislators have resolved to impeach him as soon as possible anyway. “We know it is not going to be easy because we are aware there are attempts to influence MCAs not to do that.”
Obado and his four children, Dan Achola, Scarlet Susan, Jerry Zachary and Everline Adhiambo Zachary and other individuals have been charged with conspiracy to defraud the Migori County government of Sh300 million. The governor was arrested last week in Migori alongside his family.
He was arraigned in court on Monday and freed on a Sh8.75 million cash bail. Together with his co-accused, they face 28 charges, among them conspiracy to commit an economic crime.
He has since been barred from accessing his office. He must fight harder for his survival, both in politics and in court. If impeached and the Senate sides with the MCAs, Obado will become the second governor to lose his seat over corruption allegations. Former Kiambu Governor Ferdinand Waititu was impeached and replaced by his deputy James Nyoro under similar circumstances.
Obado’s impeachment approval also comes at a time when the party is facing a backlash over its stand on how funds meant for curbing spread of Covid-19 were spent. Yesterday, Mbadi said the party was concerned about the fate of service delivery in Migori with an indicted governor presiding over the county’s affairs.
He said the party weighed on many scenarios but chose to follow impeachment route. “The party is also concerned that Mahanga has in the recent past been denied access to his office and even his official car taken away from him.
“The county ministers do not respect him. He has not been functioning as the deputy governor. But we will rectify this,” Mbadi said, adding that this puts the county in a very precarious position.
“Practically, if I were Governor Obado, I would have just resigned because he knows he is not going to have an opportunity to discharge his duties. Why hold the county at ransom?” Obado is also charged with the murder of Sharon Otieno. The case is pending in the High Court and he is out on bail.
The governor was first elected in 2013 on a Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) ticket after decamping from ODM when he failed to win nomination. He later rejoined ODM and got re-elected on its ticket in 2017.
Yesterday, Obado termed the decision by the party as “harsh and rushed”. He cited the legal principle of presumption of innocence until one is proven guilty by a court of law and wondered why his own party was moving fast to woo MCAs to oust him.
“The MCAs raised a number of issues some of which were not in court. There were over 50 pending issues the MCAs had with the governor,” ODM Secretary General Edwin Sifuna said.