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Impeachment: Lawyer likens Sonko to King Louis

NAIROBI
By Japheth Ogila | December 17th 2020

 

Predictably, the final sessions of Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko’s impeachment trial by a Senate plenary were expected to bring the best out lawyers for both sides.

Nairobi County Assembly’s lead counsel Ndegwa Njiru likened Sonko’s situation to the fall of King Louis XVI of France whose fate, he told the House was sealed by “the extravagance of his wife.”

Njiru pleaded with the lawmakers to let the axe fall on Governor Sonko as his ouster was inevitable.

“Why was King Louis punished? He was punished because of the extravagance of his wife. Time has come for the governor pay for his sins,” he said.

Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko (right) and Nairobi County Assembly lawyer Ndegwa Njiru during his Senate impeachment trial. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

The lawyer had taken the governor to task over the stalled Dandora Stadium project which is under investigation as a result of shoddy workmanship by the constructor.

 The Nairobi MCAs had accused the governor of failing the bar of leadership in the oversight of the utilisation of the resources of the county—a mandate bestowed on him by the Constitution.

The lawyer accused the governor of turning a blind eye as the contractor breached the contract by sub-standard materials. The assembly held that the company was paid Sh196 million in the transaction but the governor maintained that only Sh80 million was paid.

“I believe wherever Catherine Ndereba is, wherever Kipchoge Keino is, those who are dead are indeed turning in their graves,” Njiru said.

 But in his defence, Sonko replied that he had delegated the duty to his minister in charge of sports, hence the responsibility rested in another docket.

Also, at the centre of the ouster trial was Sh297.5 million that the governor said was not lost. However, Narok Senator Ledama Ole Kina sought a clarification whether the money was wired back to the Central Bank of Kenya and was taken to the county development fund.

MCAs had also accused Sonko of using inappropriate language against women to prove his inability to hold public office.

Diverted payments

The governor also found himself in a tight spot after he was accused of using money meant for bursaries to pay lawyers.

Evidence tabled by the assembly had it that the county paid Sh80 million on a Sh5 million invoice to a law firm and another Sh83 million to another.

While the governor did not rebut the evidence, he maintained that the first law firm only received Sh4 million but he did not confirm or deny that the money came from the county.

US trip

After being taken to task on Wednesday over a US trip where he was accused of flying his daughter and wife on a first-class flight at the taxpayers’ expense Sonko responded: “My wife deposited personal cash. The trip was official and genuine because they were both part of the government delegation confirmed by State House”.

Sonko objected to the accusations of breaching public trust by signing the Deed of Transfer of crucial county functions to the Nairobi Metropolitan Service while drunk as was averred by Nairobi County Assembly Minority Leader Michael Ogada on Wednesday.

 “I was told that I am going to be helped and that we are going to work together with the president. I was not told that the General was going to take over the functions,” Sonko responded.

The governor accused assembly Minority Leader of being used to cause his downfall by moving the motion of impeachment. Sonko said the MCAs used proxy schools to pocket the taxpayers’ money.

He added: "I refused to release some CDF funds because some MCAs had opened fake educational institutions at River Road which was being run by their families and wives."

Sonko further said some cheques were drawn by the Nairobi County government but on investigating, they found that they were ‘forged’.

“Even before I came to office, money meant for poor children was withdrawn from proxies,” he said adding that arrests had been made and suspects arraigned.

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