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crashing halt for Oloo’s career

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RUSHDIE OUDIA

By RUSHDIE OUDIA
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Employment and Labour Relations Court Judge Nduma Nderi may have put the last nail on the career coffin of embattled Kisumu County Assembly Speaker Onyango Oloo on Tuesday when he dismissed a petition challenging his impeachment in September.

The outspoken former Speaker suffered a major setback after the judge dismissed his petition as lacking merit, effectively enforcing the decision by the 48-member County Assembly.

Mr Oloo’s removal from office after he was adversely mentioned in the Sh2.5 billion Lake Basin Mall scandal, in which the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) said investigations had shown he had pocketed millions and received properties in kickbacks. He was then arrested and arraigned. The subsequent impeachment sounded the death knell for Mr Oloo.

When he took office, he was full of gratitude to the leadership of the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) with a special mention of Mr Raila Odinga for his support, terming his election a great honour.

“I see my presence here as a homecoming albeit with a greater responsibility. I am grateful to all who reposed resounding trust in me to make this possible,” he had said.

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In the run-up to the 2017 General Election, like a prodigal son, he returned to the opposition after his defection from the then President Uhuru Kenyatta-led party TNA, where he had served as the Secretary General. He had openly attacked and criticised ODM leader Raila Odinga and the party, earning himself a “persona non grata” tag from ODM adherents for “sharing a bed with the enemy”. His return “home” was marked with fanfare, culminating in his unveiling before a mammoth crowd at the Jomo Kenyatta Sports Ground in Kisumu by none other than Mr Odinga.

Cleansed by Mr Odinga’s reception and having received his blessings, he would proceed to try his luck for the Kisumu Central parliamentary seat, only to receive a cold reception at the primaries from suspicious ODM adherents. He would be floored by the incumbent, Mr Fred Ouda, before finding another lease through his election as the Speaker of the Kisumu County Assembly.

When he returned to ODM, Mr Oloo promised a dossier that would help unearth the tricks Jubilee had used to rise to power as well as strategies that would supposedly help Mr Odinga ascend to the highest seat. But this was never to be, which may have contributed to his falling out of favour with some ODM big shots.

The question now, following his fall, is whether the prodigal son became too comfortable in the house, leading to his rejection by the father and brothers.

In September, as he faced a backlash from the Kisumu MCAs, Mr Oloo appeared cornered and subdued. Not even his attempts to invoke the name of Mr Odinga bore fruits as he fought to retain his position.

On Tuesday, after Justice Nderi delivered the ruling, he quietly left the courts on foot, guarded by tens of youths, even as his successor, Mr Elisha Oraro, who is holding the position in acting capacity, burst into celebrations alongside his supporters. Justice Nderi had ordered Mr Oloo to release the official county assembly vehicle to the acting Speaker immediately. His abrasive leadership style has been cited as a possible contributor to his downfall.

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