Tharaka Nithi deputy governor Francis Kagwima has taken over county leadership after Governor Muthomi Njuki was charged in court. Njuki was released on a Sh6 million cash bail after spending two nights in police cells. Chief magistrate Douglas Ogoti barred Njuki from accessing county offices until the corruption case is concluded.
Njuki will only be allowed in county offices in the company of Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission officers.
The governor allegedly irregularly awarded Sh34.7 million solid waste incinerator tender. Charged together with the governor was his wife, nephew Allan Gitonga, brother-in-law George Mugweru, chief environment officer Fridah Murungi, acting procurement director Floridah Kiende, finance officer Highton Murithi, finance officer Teresia Kagoji, architecture Lee Mwenda of the department of roads, Mike Mwiandi, an accountant and procurement officers Japhet Mutugi and Emily Nkatha.
Already, Kagwima is said to be working on how to replace the charged top county officials as they are not allowed in offices just like the embattled governor. Talk was also rife that the deputy and Njuki opponents he defeated in 2017 are planning an impeachment motion against the besieged governor. Three candidates have expressed interest in unseating Njuki. They are Chuka University vice-chancellor Erastus Njoka, Machakos county assembly clerk Gitari Mbiuki and Mzalendo Kibunjia the director-general of National Museums Kenya. Senator Kindiki Kithure is also said to have an interest in the seat.
Njuki has also been at war with Kagwima, accusing him of sidelining Maara and Tharaka regions. In the budget passed by MCAs, the governor made sure through lobbying Chuka/Igambang’ombe got Sh600 million while the two other sub-counties combined received an amount that was below what Njuki’s home region got. Maara was allocated only Sh277 million while Tharaka had the least share of Sh216 million. The deputy even declared in public he would not be in Njuki’s team 2022. Njuki is a first-time governor. Kindiki and Njuki do not get on well. They at one time differed at Tharaka Uragate annual cultural festival.