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Court suspends Nairobi governor by-election

By Kamau Muthoni | January 4th 2021 at 18:09:00 GMT +0300

The High Court has barred the electoral agency from conducting a gubernatorial by-election in Nairobi until the hearing of several cases challenging the ouster of former Governor Mike Sonko (pictured) is heard. 

Judge Antony Mrima in his ruling suspended a gazette notice by Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) which set February 18 as the day to elect a new city governor.

The ruling now puts the fate of the city-county in limbo as the 90 day by-election clock continues to run.

“The special gazette notice no 10914 dated December 21, 2020, issued by IEBC is hereby suspended until the hearing and determination of the amended notice of motion is heard and determined,” the judge ruled.

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The judge also directed that Nairobi County Assembly, the Senate, Attorney General Kihara Kariuki, and the Speaker of the county and acting Governor Benson Mutura, IEBC to respond to Sonko’s application filed after he was impeached within seven days.

He also ruled that Sonko should serve any of the parties who had not received the court papers by close of business tomorrow to allow them also to respond.

At the same time, the judge ruled that an application by the Nairobi County assembly clerk to have a bench of more than judge to hear the case will be heard on January 14.

After he was impeached, Sonko moved to court seeking to block Mutura from assuming office as an acting governor. He had also sought orders seeking to suspend a by-election.

 The politician also urged the court to suspend Nairobi County’s appropriation bill, his target being contentious Sh37 billion allocated by the county to the Nairobi Metropolitan Services (NMS).

Mutura signed the bill, paving way for the release of the money immediately he was sworn in.

“ The petitioner prays that the court issue conservatory order restraining IEBC from publishing in the Kenya gazette electronic and print media of national circulation a notice of holding elections of the gubernatorial seat for Nairobi City County as a consequence of a resolution by the sixth respondent on December 17, 2020,” Sonko’s lawyer Wilfred Nyamu argued.

Nyamu argued that his client’s impeachment by both Nairobi County Assembly on December 3 and the Senate on December 17 was illegal since it did not meet the threshold to remove him from office and occasion the by-election.

“IEBC will be proceeding on an illegality if they proceed to hold elections for the gubernatorial seat for Nairobi City County,” he continued.

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 in total disregard of his rights to fair administrative action.

Sonko, in his affidavit, said his removal was compromised from the beginning.

Sonko was impeached on December 18, 2020, after senators voted to uphold the impeachment his impeachment by the county assembly.

The lawmakers voted on 11 charges related to gross violation of the constitution, abuse of office, gross misconduct and crimes under national law against the governor.

In the first charge of gross violation of the constitution, 27 lawmakers voted YES while 16 voted NO. In the second charge of abuse of office 27 voted YES while 16 voted NO.

On the third charge of gross misconduct, 27 voted YES and 16 voted NO. And, in the fourth charge of crimes under national law, 27 voted YES and 16 NO.

IEBC Judge Antony Mrima Governor Mike Sonko City by-election
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