SALIM ODENY: Why ODM erred on Obado’s impeachment based on what is in court

Migori Governor Okoth Obado in Court for his case against the murder of Rongo University Student Sharon Otieno

(Views you are about to read are solely for the writer, and doesn’t represent Migori News’)

I beg those of us who disagree with the decision to impeach Governor Obado to do that respectfully and with decorum.

We can afford to remain civil even in our disagreement. It doesn’t help getting personal with other leaders and calling other people names.

For me, I choose to chase the ball and not the players.

I find the decision misinformed and lacking in merit on the following grounds:

1. Article 50(2)(a) provides that ‘every accused person has the right to a fair trial, which includes the right to be presumed innocent until the contrary is proved’.

This is a fundamental principle of fair hearing in the administration of justice.

My party has been steadfast and committed to this principle in the past cases. We should keep to this principle.

Obado has merely been charged and not even a prima facie case has been established against him.

He remains innocent until proved guilty by a court of competent jurisdiction. Any attempt to find him guilty other than by the courts is not only an affront to rule of law but also amounts to mob lynching.

Governor Ojamong’ has had a prima facie case established against him and put to his defense.

Why is he not being subjected to the same treatment? At least, in that case there is sufficient ground for removal as provided for in Article 181(1)(b) that a Governor may be removed ‘where there are serious reasons for believing that the county governor has committed a crime under national or international law’.

2. Impeachment is more of a political process that must not rely on a judicial process to succeed. It is better to separate the two.

Impeachment cannot or at least should not be premised on a court process because of two reasons at least in my opinion:

(a) it is sub judice and amounts to canvassing a matter that is before court in a forum other than the court of law. It interferes with the fair hearing process. It throws away the fundamental principle of INNOCENT TILL PROVEN GUILTY. It amounts to condemning someone unheard.

(b) the action (impeachment) cannot be undone. It has no recourse. What if the County Assembly of Migori goes ahead and impeach Governor Obado and the same impeachment is upheld by the senate thereby removing him from the office then the court finds him innocent of the charges preferred against him and upon which the impeachment motion was based?

What remedy is available to Obado? Won’t the outcome of that process be so unjust that no known remedy can cure?

3. Article 47(1) demands that ‘every person has the right to administrative action that is expeditious, efficient, lawful, reasonable and procedurally fair’.

It is a requirement that not only the outcome should be fair, but even the procedure should be fair.

Section 33 of the County Government Act stipulates the process of impeachment. It is a bottom-up approach process. It is envisaged that the process should originate from the County Assembly of Migori before it is taken to the national level.

In the case of Obado, I have seen some of the senators who are by law required to consider his impeachment at the senate also participating in the demand for him to be impeached.

Senate serves as a sieve in the impeachment process. It also serves as an appellate court when it comes to the impeachment of a Governor.

How will it serve any form of justice if some of the members of the institution which should consider the decision with aim of ratifying or nullifying it also participate in the same decision at the initial stages? Won’t it be the same where the same judge who condemns you to a hangman’s noose again sits in the panel to hear your appeal?

This robs the process of the fairness it should have and gives room to Obado to cry foul.4. Governor Obado has come out openly to claim that he is a victim of witch-hunt.

I am afraid we are helping his case in this claim. Look at the lawyers who are defending Ojamong’ and indeed other leaders accused of similar offences as Obado.

Look at those who defended (almost to death) Governor Waiguru. Then ask yourself who came to the rescue of Obado. He says that only one MP from Migori visited him when he was in custody.

Why do we make it easy for Obado to play victim? He is now appealing to the public that he is being profiled and targeted. Some of our actions are confirming the same.

Finally, I maintain that impeaching Obado based on the court case he is presently facing is a decision that has not been well thought out and it offends reason and justice from whatever angle you look at it.

I respectfully submit while remaining a loyal member of ODM.

(The post was first posted on the writer’s Facebook profile)