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Court summons Sonko in Sh14m kickback case

KENYA
By Paul Ogemba | March 3rd 2021
Former Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko at the Kiambu Law Courts. [George Njunge, Standard]

Former Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko has been summoned to appear in court tomorrow for hearing of a Sh14 million graft case.

Anti-Corruption Court Senior Principal Magistrate Peter Ooko issued the orders after the Anti-Terrorism Police Unit (ATPU) failed to produce Sonko in court as had been directed by the magistrate on Monday.

“The case can only proceed when the first accused (Sonko) is present in court. Since it has not been explained what is ailing him to make him not come to court, I will re-issue a production order for him to be brought to court on Thursday,” ruled Mr Ooko.

Sonko's lawyers led by John Khaminwa and Wilfred Nyamu had told the court that he was not able to appear because of an order by an anti-terrorism court that he should not be moved from a Nairobi hospital where he is admitted.

According to the lawyers, Sonko is still unwell and is scheduled to undergo an operation in South Africa.

"He is sick and admitted to hospital. The court will be making a bad precedent by ordering that a person who is admitted to hospital and still receiving treatment should be produced in court for the hearing of his case,” said Dr Khaminwa.

The lawyer wanted the case adjourned for two months to enable Sonko recover but his co-accused, Fredrick Odhiambo and Antony Otieno Ombok, through their lawyer, complained that the delay in hearing and determining the graft case is affecting their right to a fair trial.

“As much as we sympathise with Sonko’s predicament, we also have a right to have our trial concluded within a reasonable time. It will be unfair to be kept in uncertainty; the court must balance all our rights,” they said.

Mr Ooko agreed with their concern and ruled that there was nothing wrong in summoning the ex-governor to court since his appearance will help the court in determining his condition and whether to suspend the trial until he recovers.

In the case, Sonko is alleged to have received kickbacks for awarding his co-accused multi-million shilling contracts for provision of heavy machinery and equipment for use by the County Government of Nairobi.

Sonko, Odhiambo, Ombok and their companies, Yiro Enterprises and ROG Security Limited, are accused of embezzling Sh14.1 million. According to the prosecution, Sonko received Sh8.4 million from Odhiambo in December 2018, leading to the charges of conspiracy to commit an offence of corruption, conflict of interest, money laundering and acquisition of proceeds of crime.

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