Kenyan police seal off court as Nairobi governor set to face graft charges

Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko arrives for a hearing after he was arrested on corruption-related charges, at the Milimani Law Courts in Nairobi, Kenya on December 9, 2019. [Reuters]
Police in the Kenyan capital sealed off a court building where the governor of Nairobi County was due to be charged with corruption and other economic crimes on Monday, guarding against threatened protests by his supporters.

Governor Mike Mbuvi Sonko was arrested on Friday and is accused of conspiracy to commit corruption, failure to comply with laws related to procurement, unlawful acquisition of public property and laundering the proceeds of crime.

Police set up barriers on streets around the court and diverted traffic in anticipation of possible trouble after Sonko’s supporters called for protests.

Sonko, a member of President Uhuru Kenyatta’s ruling Jubilee Party, said in a statement posted on his social media accounts on Sunday that his arrest was “politically schemed” and that he was a law abiding citizen, and urged his supporters to remain calm and avoid any actions that “may threaten the peace.”

Kenyans and the private sector have long complained of corruption in Kenya, East Africa’s business hub and the region’s richest economy.

Sonko was elected governor in 2017. The former senator is a flamboyant figure, known for his glitzy lifestyle, flashy clothes, chunky gold jewellery and eye-catching hairstyles.

Police used teargas to disperse hundreds of Sonko’s supporters when he was called into the anti-corruption office for questioning in November.

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