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Sonko fights Speaker over ouster Motion

NAIROBI
By Josphat Thiong'o | November 30th 2020
Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko at a Milimani Court during the hearing of a corruption case in October. [Collins Kweyu, Standard]

Governor Mike Sonko has hit out at the Nairobi County Assembly over the renewed push to oust him.

Sonko is now accusing Assembly Speaker Benson Mutura of contempt of court for allowing the ouster Motion tabled last week to continue.

He says a case relating to the previous impeachment bid by Makongeni MCA Peter Imwatok is already in court, and that the Speaker is a party to it.

Through lawyer Harrison Kinyanjui, Sonko has written to Mr Mutura urging him to stop the ongoing impeachment process until the case before the Employment and Labour Relations Court is determined.

“By your purporting to process a fresh impeachment Motion against Mike Sonko Mbuvi while these proceedings are pending, you have committed an act of intentional disrespect to these judicial proceedings in breach of Section 36 of the High Court Act, 2015, which constitutes contempt of court,” Mr Kinyanjui wrote in the letter dated November 27.

“Since you have submitted yourself to the authority of the High Court in the cited petition as the forums convenes to inquire into the legality of the purported impeachment Motion by Imwatok, the rule of subjudice equally binds you not to do any act that constitutes a breach of the High Court’s administration of justice as you have now done by means of this fresh Motion by Michael Ogada over the purported impeachment of the Governor,” the letter read.

Mr Ogada, the assembly’s leader of minority, tabled a Motion on Thursday last week against the governor. He listed four main grounds of impeachment; abuse of office, gross violation of the law, committing a crime under the national and/international laws, as well as lacking the physical/mental capability to run the county government.

The Motion is set for debate on Thursday after 86 of 122 MCAs signed in support of the petition. This will be the second time in less than a year that Sonko has stared at impeachment. In February, Mr Imwatok tabled a notice of impeachment before the assembly, listing 16 grounds for Sonko’s ouster, among them alleged abuse of office and questionable procurement of services, award of contracts and inability to constitute a working executive.

The notice of Motion was supported by 65 of the 122 MCAs largely drawn from ODM, and a select few from the Jubilee Party.

Sonko, however, got a reprieve on March 2, 2020 when the High Court stopped his impeachment Motion, ruling that the process failed to adhere to the due process.

But during his communication to the House on Thursday last week, Mutura said the impeachment Motion by Imwatok stood suspended because it was not debated within the stipulated two weeks after a notice was given. This paved way for the tabling of the fresh ouster Motion by Ogada, he said. [Josphat Thiongó ]

Kinyanjui however says the Speaker had no power to suspend the Motion by Imwatok, as it was still an active case in court and that it was coming up for hearing on December 3, before Judge Byron Okumu.

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The lawyer said according to the Nairobi County Assembly standing orders, only the member who gave the notice of impeachment Motion, and not the Speaker, could withdraw it.

“At any rate and since it was a special Motion at the time it was lodged, standing orders dictate that it cannot be withdrawn except with leave of the County Assembly. You, therefore, have no unilateral power to withdraw the Motion by Imwatok,” Kinyanjui wrote in the letter to the Speaker.

The lawyer said the Speaker was yet to furnish Sonko with grounds of impeachment.

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