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Tobiko orders Nairobi Senator Mike Sonko interrogated over 'acting President' remark

By Nzau Musau | October 16th 2016

Nairobi Senator Mike Sonko’s declaration that he is “acting President” landed him in trouble yesterday, as State House distanced itself and Kenyans questioned the pattern of disregard for the institution of the Presidency.

Director of Public Prosecutions Keriako Tobiko ordered the police to immediately interrogate the Senator in respect to both his conduct and utterances on Friday at the funeral of former assistant minister Wavinya Ndeti’s husband.

Video clips showing Sonko swimming against the political tide at the Kinani burial, proffering on himself the title “acting President of the Republic of Kenya” and insulting fellow mourners were circulating on social media platforms yesterday.

Part of the footage – censored for the comfort of family viewing – was also aired by local TV stations on Friday evening and viewers from both sides of the political divide were shocked.

“My attention has been drawn to a video clip aired by various TV stations and widely shared on social media platforms in which Senator Sonko is captured engaging in disruptive conduct and uttering words to the effect that he is the acting President of the Republic of Kenya,” reads Tobiko’s letter to Inspector General of Police Joseph Boinnet.

“I direct that you conduct urgent investigations into the said conduct and utterances, have Hon Senator Sonko interrogated in respect of the said conduct and utterances and urgently forward the file to this office for appropriate action.”

The letter, copied to Director of Criminal Investigations Ndegwa Muhoro, provided online links where police can view the footage.

“President Uhuru Kenyatta is in Togo. Deputy President William Ruto is in France. I am Number Three in command, politically, influence-wise and socially. I am now the acting President of the Republic of Kenya,” Sonko is captured telling the crowd as they boo him.

It later turned out that Mr Ruto was in the country. Sonko claimed all the security officers at the burial were there to attend to him as “the acting President.”

He castigated the Wiper leadership for “mistreating” Ms Ndeti during the 2013 elections. He also claimed that the CORD leadership of Raila Odinga, Kalonzo Musyoka and Moses Wetang’ula had failed the country.

The three had addressed the mourners and gone back to their seats to listen to the President’s speech, which was supposedly in his hands. At some point, the Master of Ceremonies asked technicians to switch off Sonko’s microphone. The Senator jerked forward to attack the MC as Ndeti dashed to calm him down to no avail.

Sonko shouted, “I have to give the President’s speech whether you like it or not. I must read the President’s speech.”

Yesterday, the Presidency distanced itself from the actions of the Senator, with a senior official saying that Sonko “was not carrying the President’s message in any form or shape.”

The official said that in the absence of a Cabinet Secretary, the President’s message is usually read out by the County Commissioner.

Senior Counsel Ahmednasir Abdullahi and University of Nairobi lecturer Dr Francis Owakah described Sonko’s behaviour and utterances as “treasonable”. Ahmednasir said the behaviour signalled “demise of rule of law” and possible birth of a “Banana Republic.”

“When Sonko says he is the acting President of the Republic of Kenya and that is legally false, he commits treason. He has declared himself President through a process that is against the Constitution. Essentially, he has subverted the law of the land,” Abdullahi said.

When he saw the DPP’s statement ordering investigations on the Senator, Abdullahi celebrated on social media: “Kudos to the DPP. This is simply what the law mandates. And Sonko is really, really a small man.”

Owakah said the Senator had essentially trashed Chapter 6 of the Constitution on leadership and integrity as well as Article 10 on national values.

“The saddest part of all this is that the Presidency itself appears to condone this kind of behaviour. Why can’t the President and his deputy condemn such brazen disregard for the Constitution and our values as a people?” Owakah, a culture and value analyst, posed.

Sonko has in the past put the President’s call on “speaker phone” before a multitude and a contingent of police officers executing lawful orders. The incident elicited similar outrage.

Chapter 6 of the Constitution commits State officers to respect the people, bring honour to the nation and dignity to public office, serve the people rather than rule them and to promote public confidence in the integrity of the offices they hold.

Article 10 binds State officers to the rule of law, good governance, integrity and accountability in leadership.

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