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Inside Sonko’s 20-hour police drama

By People Team
Wednesday, February 3rd, 2021
Former Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko
In summary
    • Political objective:  Khaminwa said the case was tailored to achieve a political objective with intent to tarnish the name of the former governor.
    • Fanfare: The defence decried the fanfare with which the politician was whisked to court, “guarded like a terrorism suspect.

Zadock Angira and Clement Kamau

Twenty hours before former Nairobi Governor Mike Mbuvi Sonko was arraigned in a Kiambu law court yesterday morning, the flamboyant politician had been subjected to extreme anxiety, frustration and loneliness.

After his court appearance, the embattled former governor was ordered to stay in custody until tomorrow when the magistrate will decide whether he should be detained for more days as the police conclude investigations.

After High Court judge Justice James Makau on Monday declined to issue orders barring police from grilling Sonko over his claims that he and government officials orchestrated chaos during the 2017 elections, detectives from the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) swooped on him, ordering him to report to their Kiambu Road headquarters.

On the same day, his lawyer Dr. John Khaminwa, said the defence team had made arrangements for the former governor to report to the police today at 12pm.

“Today (Monday), surprisingly, the governor told me that he had received a phone call that he must come to the headquarters,” Khaminwa said.

Unlike before, none of his supporters went to the DCI headquarters apart from his lawyers and close aides. The former governor, a crowd-puller, drove in a convoy of three vehicles and did not talk to journalists.

Sonko was grilled for slightly more than an hour but refused to record a statement over the allegations on the alleged election chaos.

In his statement, he maintained that he could not record anything as there was a civil matter in which Interior Principal Secretary Karanja Kibicho had obtained gagging orders against him.

“These orders do not create exceptions. I cannot, therefore, record any statement without violating the order in this matter,” Sonko wrote in his statement recorded at 4.46pm on Monday.

He, however, did not know that all pending files in which he was directly or indirectly implicated had been recalled to DCI headquarters.

One such file was from Buru Buru DCI office in which the investigating officer had recommended that Sonko be charged with several counts of trespass and assault.

As late as 9.30pm on Monday, Sonko and his lawyer did not know what the detectives were planning.

Khaminwa, expressing his frustration in a recorded interview, said: “We arrived here at 2pm and at the time I am talking to you which is 9.30pm we are still with the governor, we do not know what is going to happen to him.

Nobody has told me what kind of offence he is going to be charged with. This is not the way things should be done.”

Sonko, who had only planned not to record any statement about Kibicho, would later learn that more serious charges awaited him.

While at Block C at the DCI headquarters, at least nine officers, in two heavily tinted cars, were on standby to escort him to a police station where he was to spend the night.  

The DCI had indicated that they were investigating cases of “undermining authority of a public officer” and “incitement to violence and disobedience of the law”, contrary to Sections 132 and 96 of the Penal Code.

Sonko had argued that during a public rally in Dagoretti, Nairobi, recently he did not make any utterances that could be construed he was inciting anybody to commit violence, and instead considered himself a whistle blower.

Parking lot

Sonko arrived at the DCI headquarters on Monday shortly after 2pm. He was detained there until around 10.30pm when he was taken to Muthaiga police station where he spent the night.

At the station, he was offered some food but he declined and a family member later brought him dinner and a blanket

Yesterday, at around 6.30am,  he was removed from the police cells and taken back to the DCI headquarters where he was kept inside a police vehicle at the parking lot for more than three hours.

He was then driven to Kiambu court where he was charged with 10 counts, chief among them gaining forceful entry into a private property.

The other nine charges related to the first charge with Sonko being accused of assaulting nine people in Buruburu Phase Four. According to the charge sheets, the offences were committed on March 25, 2019.

He was accused, jointly with others not before court, with forcibly and violently entering plot No. Nairobi block 7818, the property of Landmark International company.

Sonko denied all the charges with the prosecution seeking to have him denied bail, citing a litany of grounds, chief among that he is a flight risk.

The flamboyant former governor was presented before Kiambu Chief Magistrate Stella Atambo and was represented by senior counsel Khaminwa, lawyers Assa Nyakundi, Danston Omari and Evans Ondieki.

According to an affidavit sworn by Chief Inspector Geoffrey Ndatho on why Sonko should be denied bail, the detectives said the former county chief had jumped bail in the past.

The first charge indicated that Sonko left his office at City Hall while he was the Governor of Nairobi City county and proceeded to Buruburu Phase Four accompanied by a group of youths whom he incited to cause the commission of the offences.

Ndatho further said that Sonko is being investigated for other criminal offences and feared that since he has contacts with residents of Nairobi, he could interfere with witnesses if released on bail.

Serious offence

The court also heard that Sonko has been charged with a serious offence and if found guilty he shall be sentenced to serve a custodial sentence and, therefore, there is a high probability and incentive for him to abscond court.

Detectives maintained that they were yet to arrest other suspects who are also his supporters, and were also likely to interfere with witnesses.

“Key witnesses reside within Nairobi county where Sonko was governor and, therefore, chances of interference are very high. The key witnesses are known to Sonko whose statements need to be protected and deducted for their safety before they testify,” said Ndatho.

The court further heard that Sonko was charged in Mombasa chief magistrate court criminal case No. 275 of 2001.

He obtained anticipatory bail in Nairobi high court application No. 244 of 2001 but failed to attend the subordinate court.

The DCI had attached a document indicating Sonko had 10 previous convictions.

The defence wondered why the prosecution had introduced “foreign and strange cases” and yet the same office had in January this year cleared the accused by giving him a certificate of good conduct.

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