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Sonko past haunts him, Senate to seal his fate

By Jacob Ng'etich | December 17th 2020 at 00:00:00 GMT +0300

Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko (right) with his private secretary Ben Mulwa at the Senate-Assembly for his impeachment debate at parliament buildings, Nairobi. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

Claims of a chopper hovering the New York skyline at the expense of Nairobi residents, tales of unbridled extravagance and allegations of a man who abdicated his executive roles, characterised the impeachment proceedings against Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko.

And today, after according the governor and the County Assembly of Nairobi a hearing, Kenya's 47 senators will take a vote to decide whether they will spare the flamboyant politician to continue with his theatrics or whether they will send him home.

Four allegations

The 11th governor now to face the Senate, Sonko's legal team spent the better part of yesterday afternoon defending him over the four allegations the County Assembly used to impeach him.

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He was impeached by the assembly two weeks ago, with 88 MCAs accusing him of gross violation of the Constitution, abuse of office, gross misconduct and crimes under international law.

Lawyer Harrison Kinyanjui led the charge for Sonko, tearing apart evidence and witness, while lawyer Ndegwa Njiru was back at the Senate to pitch for the County Assembly.

Minority Leader and MCA for Embakasi Ward Michael Ogada Okumu braved harsh questioning from Kinyanjui, at one point being accused of perjury.

Through Okumu, the County Assembly presented the case against Sonko before an attentive House.

During the four-hour submission, lawyer Ndegwa led the witnesses to anchor the case that could see the Nairobi governor being the second governor to be ousted.

From allegations of denying genuine students in Nairobi County bursaries to sexually molesting women at the county to flying his daughter on the first class to New York disguised as a ward representative, the witnesses built a case for the senators to consider as they vote today. 

Okumu accused the governor of stopping the issuance of bursaries to 3,000 students in secondary school who were under full scholarship.

The witness said Sonko refused to continue paying for the students who had been picked by his predecessor Dr Evans Kidero and instead started using the money to pay lawyers.

However, Sonko's lawyers interjected and complained over Okumu's introduction of new matters that were not presented during the impeachment.

The issue of Dandora stadium also came up, with Okumu claiming the facility was not constructed as required despite the fact that the county paid Sh196 million to the contractor.

The County Assembly lawyers played clips showing Sonko in a number of videos, including one where he was asking President Kenyatta to help take over functions of planning.

High turnover

The witness said Sonko, in three years, had appointed 10 people to serve as CEC in the Finance and Economic Planning docket and eight chief officers in the same ministry.

He also accused the governor of appointing Agnes Gathangu to serve as CEC when she was working as chief officer in the same position.

To buttress his case, the witness noted that on April 10, 2019, she wrote to the clerk of County Assembly as Chief Officer for Economic Planning while on March 25 she had written as the  CECM Finance and Economic Planning. Okumu said that showed incompetence and poor governance on the part of Sonko.

On the cross-examination, Mr Kinyanjui took on Okumu, pointing out as the mover of the impeachment motion he had a motive.

Okumu admitted that he was paid Sh823,000 imprest in October for a trip to Dubai but did not travel because he was prosecuting the impeachment motion against Sonko.

Narok Senator Ledama ole Kina said the witness was supposed to answer all the questions that he was being asked.

This is after the witness refused to answer some of the questions and Ledama insisted that everything needed to be captured, with Nandi Senator Samson Cherargei saying the Senate needs to get all the information before taking a vote.

If the impeachment is approved, Sonko will become the second governor to be kicked out of office, following in the footsteps of former Kiambu Governor Ferdinand Waititu.

The County Assembly witness had accused Sonko of using his home in Mua Hills in Machakos County to run the county government issues, which meant he was absent from work.

At one time, the Senate was asked to have a private session when a lawyer for the County Assembly warned they wanted to play an alleged video of Sonko that carried 'obscenities' that had been captured in a phone call with another person.   

Sonko's lawyer said the governor had not been given the evidence to defend himself before the County Assembly.

Sub judice

The embattled governor urged the Senate not to debate the matter involving Nairobi Metropolitan Services because it was sub judice since the case was in the High Court.

Sonko accused Okumu of a witch hunt. He said the Senate was performing a quasi-judicial role as opposed to legislation and the House should assume the role of the adjudicatory body.

Kinyanjui also produced affidavits of 57 MCAs who claimed their signatures were forged and had reported the incident at the Diani Police Station.

Sonko said the MCAs were in Diani and their accounts were logged in illegally.

Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko Impeachment motion Senate
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