Kananu: Sonko plotted to bar me from taking office

Nairobi Deputy Governor nominee Ann Kananu. [File, Standard]

Nairobi Deputy Governor nominee Ann Kananu has accused impeached Governor Mike Sonko of sponsoring a petition to block her from ascending to office. 

At the same time, Attorney General Kihara Kariuki has urged the court not to block Kananu’s vetting, arguing that Sonko has no powers to revoke her nomination.

The deputy governor nominee, in her response to a case filed by activist Okiya Omtatah, claims the impeached governor upon nominating her, sponsored Peter Agoro to file a case challenging her nomination on grounds that he (Sonko) had been charged with graft and barred from accessing the office.

Obtained orders

Initially, Agoro had filed a case to oppose her nomination but later withdrew it.

However, Omtatah filed a suit seeking to bar Kananu from being vetted, arguing that Sonko had revoked her nomination. 

The case, she claimed, was meant to shield Sonko from impeachment.

Kananu was nominated by Sonko on January 6, 2020, to deputise him and the same communicated to then Speaker Beatrice Elachi. On February 10, 2020, she was cleared by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) as the only person who was validly nominated for the deputy governor position.

Before the Nairobi County Assembly could begin the process of vetting the deputy governor nominee, Agoro moved to court and obtained orders barring the exercise. He argued that Sonko could not nominate a deputy governor while he was facing corruption charges.

In an affidavit filed at the High Court yesterday, Kananu has accused Sonko of ill motive, saying he feared that he would be kicked out once she was appointed to deputise him.

“With ill motive, Sonko knowing that once I assumed office as the deputy governor of Nairobi, he was easily and likely to be impeached by the assembly. On January 13, 2020, he sponsored petition No 1 of 2020 seeking orders to restrain the assembly from vetting me for appointment as the deputy governor,” she said.

She argued that the impeached governor’s actions of sponsoring the petition against her was premised on the fact that he had no authority and/or power to withdraw the nomination once it had been tabled before the assembly for vetting, as the executive cannot meddle with House business.

Claim sub judice

Kananu said Sonko’s recent claim that he had rescinded her nomination through a letter dated December 7, 2020, was sub judice.

“I am aware that the petition stating that my nomination had been withdrawn therefore I should not be vetted by the Assembly was sponsored by Sonko, who does not want to be replaced as a governor even after being impeached,” she said.

On leaders who have contested her vetting, Kananu said Sonko’s impeachment did not in any way affect the validity of her nomination and the process of filling the vacant position of the deputy governor.

“The constitutional process of my appointment as the deputy governor should be allowed to run its full course and the petition by Sonko claiming that he withdrew my nomination is only inviting the court to meddle with affairs of the legislative arm of government,” she added.

Kananu further argued that according to article 182 of the Constitution, there was no vacancy in the office of the deputy governor since the process to appoint one had commenced.

She consequently argued that the by-election set to be conducted by IEBC on February 18 lacked the constitutional foundation and that it would be prejudicial to her right to be appointed as deputy governor.

The AG asked the court to enjoin him as an interested party in the case. He said the court also ought to determine what happens to a person nominated for deputy position if the nominating authority vacates office.

Meanwhile, the High Court in Nairobi yesterday declined to stop Kananu’s vetting.

Justice Anthony Murima directed the parties in the case to file their court papers by Thursday and prepare for hearing at 2pm.

The judge dismissed an application by Sonko and Omtatah to halt Kananu’s vetting, saying the cases would be rendered an academic exercise if the court did not intervene.

The deputy governor nominee will be vetted on Friday at 9am. 

The judge also directed that another case challenging Kananu’s appointment be heard on February 4.

“The petitioner and respondents to file their responses within five days and replies within three days of service. Highlighting on February 4 and the prayers for conservatory orders is hereby declined,” ruled Justice Murima.