Nairobi MCAs begin process to impeach Sonko
By Eric Wainaina and David Ndolo
Embattled Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko’s stay at City Hall could come to a disgraceful end if an impeachment motion tabled yesterday against him is endorsed by Members of County Assembly.
The motion filed by Minority Whip Peter Imwatok came after months of intrigues which saw MCAs allied to the governor as well as Deputy President William Ruto’s men put up a spirited fight to save the embattled governor.
MCAs charge the flamboyant governor with 10 counts related to gross misconduct and abuse of office, citing cases of irregular award of tenders amounting to billions of shillings, fraud, causing disrepute to the office by behaving badly and lack of capacity to lead the county, as evidence.
“Everyone can see the mess in the city because of the incompetence of the governor. We do not have a deputy because he refused to nominate one. His character, where we see videos of him dancing to some funny moves and drinking alcohol in office, is an embarrassment to the county,” Imwatok said while tabling the motion.
The MCA said City Hall and Nairobi in general should not be allowed to suffer because of mistakes of an individual, and, therefore, he has to pave way for a competent leadership.
The charges include claims that the flashy county chief, who has been battling claims of running down City Hall, oversaw the irregular procurement of Dandora stadium, a matter which has been a subject of controversy.
In October last year, the Public Procurement Regulatory Authority (PPRA) recommended Sonko’s administration to be investigated by the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) over variations of Sh350 million contract in the proposed construction and renovation of the stadium.
In its recommendation to EACC, the PPRA claimed Sonko’s administration was culpable of varying the contract awarded to Scanjet Construction and paid Sh196.8 million as part of the cost.
“It has been observed that the county government has actually gone ahead to irregularly pay the contractor Sh196.8 million despite warning from the technical evaluators of the county,” stated the report by PPRA signed by Dr. Francis Amayi.
Sonko has also been in trouble over a Sh1.7 billion insurance cover for Nairobi county staff which, according to Imwatok, whose motion he said has been backed by 90 members, was awarded irregularly.
In April, last year, Imwatok, who is the Makongeni MCA, sued Sonko alleging that taxpayers lost Sh1.7 billion in the award to AAR Insurance.
In his petition, Imwatok alleged that the PPOA irregularly authorised the release and payment of Sh1.7 billion from Nairobi county accounts to AAR but county employees were receiving substandard services from Bliss GVS Healthcare Limited that was sub-contracted by AAR to provide medical services.
Imwatok sought an audit of the financial books of AAR and Bliss for the years 2015/16, 2016/17 and 2017/18 and also wanted an order i to have all funds paid to AAR for two extensions of its contract with the county government—from July 1 to September 30, and October 1 to December 31, 2017, be refunded.
Further, the governor has been accused of irregularly awarding millions of shillings to constructors repairing estate roads within the city.
Sonko is also on the spot for alleged violation of the Constitution by failing to name a deputy governor following resignation of Polycarp Igathe, who quit, citing lack of confidence from his boss.
The governor has operated for about two years without a deputy and only recently nominated Ann Mwendwa, the County Executive Committee Member for Disaster Management, after he was charged and barred from office.
Mwendwa is yet to be vetted by the County Assembly as required by law and presently, the executive is operating in a vacuum that could plunge the Capital City into a leadership crisis.
Yesterday, ward representatives allied to the governor led by Majority Leader Charles Thuku, questioned the validity of the motion, saying some of the signatures were forged and requested that they be verified. “We want the Speaker to direct that the signatures be verified if they are genuine,” Chege said.
Speaker Beatrice Elachi directed that the verification be done on Tuesday next week. On Wednesday, efforts, which included claims of bribery, were made to scuttle Sonko’s planned ouster, and the Orange Democratic Movement was forced to disown a letter by its Nairobi branch chairman and Makadara MP George Aladwa, directing MCAs allied to the party not to participate in the process.
Party secretary general Edwin Sifuna said ODM led by former Prime Minister Raila Odinga had not taken a position on the planned impeachment against Sonko as alleged by Aladwa, adding that the party’s MCAs at City Hall were free to do as they wish.
“We wish to make it clear that the party and the party leader do not and will not interfere with the power granted directly by the people to Members of the County Assembly in exercise of any of their functions including over-sighting the executive,” Sifuna said in a statement.
Aladwa, in a letter allegedly sent to Minority Leader at City Hall David Mberia, appeared to gag Orange MCAs from participating in any attempt to impeach Sonko who is battling allegations of stealing from the county.