Revealed: Inside plot to save Sonko from being kicked out of office
By Eric Wainaina and Mercy Mwai
Politicians allied to Deputy President William Ruto and Wiper Party leader Kalonzo Musyoka are working round the clock to save embattled Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko from possible impeachment, People Daily can report.
In what could further fuel divisions within the ruling Jubilee Party, a section of elected leaders in the city and Ukambani region are reportedly discussing ways to frustrate a planned impeachment motion against the governor, who was last week charged with corruption.
The leaders have been lobbying Members of County Assembly and Senators not to support any move to kick out Sonko from office.
“We are waiting for that impeachment motion to land at the Senate (if it goes through at the Assembly), and we shall (lobby the senators) to ensure that it will die on arrival,” a Wiper MP from Ukambani region, who did not wish to be quoted said yesterday.
Sonko was last week charged with 19 counts of corruption related offences and released on a Sh15 million bail. However, the anti-corruption court barred him from accessing his office, effectively paralysing operations at City Hall since the governor does not have a deputy.
Some of the MCAs have already been approached by people opposed to the impeachment plans on grounds that the move would have negative consequences on them, but majority are said to have stood their ground that the governor must leave.
President Uhuru Kenyatta, who has intensified his crusade against corruption, has asked those suspected of stealing public funds to carry their own cross.
Yesterday, Makueni MP Daniel Maanzo, who appeared in court as part of Sonko’s defence team, argued that an impeachment motion against the governor would not succeed.
“Do the MCAs know what they are doing by coming up with an impeachment motion? They could be digging their own grave. The national government can decide to suspend the entire county government and they could easily go home. They had better think twice about the plan,” Maanzo said.
If the County Assembly wants to impeach the governor, the MP said they must have sufficient grounds, adding that they cannot use the court case as one of the grounds.
A city Jubilee MP allied to Ruto, and who declined to speak on record for fear of reprisals, said elected leaders were working on plans to kill any attempt to sack the governor.
“There is no way we are going to allow one person to be crucified yet other people we have in leadership have questionable issues. We are going to do everything possible to ensure we save the governor. It’s not as if he killed anyone anyway,” the MP said.
That Ruto’s allies are siding with Sonko was affirmed by Senate Leader of Majority Kipchumba Murkomen, a staunch supporter of the DP, when he appeared for in court as one of the governor’s lawyers.
Murkomen is the leader of government business in the Senate for an administration that has declared war on corruption. He was accompanied in court by Senate Minority Whip Mutula Kilonzo Junior, a member of Kalonzo’s Wiper Party.
Murkomen and Mutula’s conduct angered the President who termed their move as conflict of interest: “One cannot serve as a legislator at the national or county level while at the same time practising law, whether or not for gain,” the President said on Jamhuri Day.
The MCAs who are plotting Sonko’s impeachment are said to have meet at Windsor Hotel to deliberate on the move.
Yesterday, Peter Imwatok, the Minority Whip at the County Assembly, said the impeachment plans were gathering steam and featured prominently during the Windsor meeting that was attended by 85 MCAs.
He said MCAs were not bothered about the plot by MPs to scuttle the Sonko ouster bid, which, he revealed, had been endorsed by about 70 MCAs out of 123 members, because the focus is to save the county from bad leadership.
“Anyone who does not want this process to come to a conclusion is basically someone who does not have a heart for the people of Nairobi. Let leaders, including the party leaders, be guided by their conscience and not selfish political interests and revenge,” Imwatok said.
Senators Samson Cherargei (Nandi), Aaron Cheruiyot (Kericho) and Kapseret MP Oscar Sudi, who are key supporters of the DP, are reported to be involved in the Sonko rescue mission. The three were in court last week as the governor fought to get released on bail.
Embakasi East MP Babu Owino, another Sonko ally, is also said to have teamed up with City MPs, mostly in the Tanga Tanga group, in plotting to save the governor. The MP also turned up in court in solidarity with the governor accompanied by his Nandi Hills counterpart Alfred Keter.
From Ukambani, apart from Mutula and Maanzo, other leaders who have publicly defended Sonko over the graft claims are Nimrod Mbai (Kitui East), Patrick Makau (Mavoko), Victor Munyaka (Machakos Town) and Vincent Musyoka (Mwala).
As the opposing camps rally their troops, city Assembly Majority Leader Charles Thuku, a Sonko supporter, feigned ignorance of the developments at City Hall, saying he was not aware of any attempts to impeach the flamboyant governor.
“I am not aware of any plans to oust the governor, I am only reading about it in the media. We have not discussed anything like that other than the fate of the county after the governor was asked not to go to the office but we are waiting for the Friday ruling to see if governors who have been charged will be allowed to go back to the office,” said Thuku.