A court yesterday barred the electoral agency from conducting a by-election in Nairobi until the hearing of several cases challenging the ouster of former Governor Mike Sonko. High Court Judge Antony Mrima suspended an Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) gazette notice that set the by-election for February 18. The ruling now puts the fate of the county in limbo as the 60-day grace period by which a by-election is to be held continues to shorten.
“The special gazette notice no. 10914 dated December 21, 2020 issued by IEBC is and hereby suspended until the hearing and determination of the amended notice of motion is heard and determined,” Mrima ruled.
The judge also directed that the Nairobi County Assembly, the Senate, Attorney General Kihara Kariuki, Nairobi County Speaker, Acting Governor Benson Mutura and IEBC respond to Sonko’s application within seven days. He also ruled that Sonko serve any of the parties who had not received the court papers by close of business today to allow them to respond. Mrima further ruled that an application by the Nairobi County Assembly clerk to have a bench of more than one judge to hear the case be heard on January 14.
After he was impeached, Sonko moved to court seeking to block Mutura from taking up the seat in an acting capacity. He had also sought orders seeking to suspend a by-election. The politician asked the court to suspend Nairobi County’s Appropriation Bill, his target being the contentious Sh37 billion allocated by the county to the Nairobi Metropolitan Services (NMS). Mutura signed the Bill on the day he took office, paving way for the release of the money immediately he was sworn in. Sonko’s lawyer Wilfred Nyamu argued that his client’s impeachment by both the Nairobi County Assembly and the Senate was illegal as it did not meet the threshold to remove him from office and occasion a by-election.
“IEBC will be proceeding on an illegality if they proceed to hold elections for the gubernatorial seat for Nairobi City County,” he said.
Nyamu said the speed at which Mutura was sworn-in when the law allows for 10 days before the swearing-in showed there were powerful forces who wanted Sonko out.