Rise and looming fall of flamboyant Governor Sonko

Wednesday, December 9th, 2020 09:00 | By
Nairobi MCAs debate a motion on Governor Mike Sonko ouster. Photo/PD/file

By Alvin Mwangi and Nancy Gitonga

Embattled Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko was yesterday making frantic efforts to save his political career, ahead of today’s Special Sitting of the Senate to determine his fate.

 Yesterday, Sonko wrote to Senate Speaker Kenneth Lusaka asking him to stop the Special Senate Sitting set for this afternoon, to deliberate his ouster bid and vote on whether to uphold or overturn his impeachment by the Nairobi County Assembly last week.

In the letter, Sonko argued that any proceedings on his impeachment would be in violation of the Senate Standing Orders and in contempt of court.

 Behind the scenes, however, the once flamboyant county boss was desperately reaching out to senior figures in government to intercede for him, ahead of today’s session.

But in public, the embattled governor exhibited his usual bravado, saying he was ready to face the senators and “ashame the devil.” 

“I am more than ready to meet the senate but it should be clear that I will not bribe anyone to get a decision that will favour me. If they want me out, I am more than ready to go home.

I don’t need to be saved, there is life after politics,’ Sonko reportedly told some of his aides who had converged at his private home in Kwale county, to chart out a counter strategy.

But despite this show of bravado, Sonko is said to have frantically attempted to secure an appointment with State House, to no avail.

“Things are not working well for Sonko. He has tried a lot of times to reach out to the President but something is not working well.

He even tried to contact his Personal Assistant but nothing materialised,” said a close aide to Sonko who sought anonymity for fear of reprisal from the governor.

Instructively, the President had on Monday chided Sonko in public, terming him incompetent.

Proceedings be halted

“This person you refer to as Super Governor, to me that is an insult,” said Uhuru, alluding to Sonko’s recent claim that the city was being run by a “super governor.”

“Within a space of eight months, NMS is in the process of doing almost 4,000 kilometres of tarmacked road in Nairobi and addressing chronic water shortage to people living in the informal settlement,” said the President, suggesting that Nairobi was better off with the Mohamed Badi led team.

Uhuru’s criticism of Sonko’s was perhaps the clearest signal that the governor’s goose was already cooked. 

In his letter to Lusaka, Sonko demanded that today’s proceedings be halted as they are illegal and in violation of the senate’s standing orders.

 Reads the letter from Sonko’s lawyer Harrison Kinyanjui: “Sonko implores your good office (Speaker of Senate) to withhold any intended or further action on the matter of the tabling, debate on, or determination of the purported Resolution dated December 3,  by the Nairobi City-County Assembly purporting to impeach Sonko as governor, and to place the same in abeyance until the dispute subject of his purported impeachment is resolved by the Nairobi Employment and Labour Relations Court.” 

 “Should Senate, therefore, decide to proceed with the hearing of submissions on the “impeachment” Resolution of December 3, against  Sonko, the same shall raise a Preliminary Objection on the matters being sub-judice, and which proceedings would constitute to an express violation of the Senate’s stated Standing Order No. 98(3)(e), which we are confident your good office will not permit to be trampled upon or breached,” adds the lawyer.

 According to the letter, the very purported “impeachment process by the Nairobi City County Assembly, against Sonko is under Judicial inquiry under Petition 35 of 2020 that is pending before the Employment and Labour Relations Court .

 Further, Kinyanjui said that the proceedings by Nairobi City County Assembly on Thursday last week were in violation of court orders issued in two cases that are pending in the High Court.

Lawful impeachment

 Sonko further argued that the county assembly passed a resolution to impeach him without the statutory threshold of the membership of Ward Reps  to do so.

 “There is no evidence that 88 members of the said assembly actually voted to impeach the governor,” says Kinyanjui.

 He says that over 52 MCAs have sworn depositions in the said Judicial proceedings but they did not log online on December 3, to participate in, vote on, or otherwise engage in the debate of the motion dated November 25, by Michael Ogada Okumu on the purported “impeachment of  Sonko,

“That  the entire process of the purported impeachment,  was in breach of Section 33 of the County Governments Act and there was, therefore, no lawful impeachment Resolution capable of triggering lawful proceedings before the Senate, “reads the letter.

And if the Senate upholds his impeachment by the Nairobi County Assembly, it will occasion a fresh election in the capital for a governor and deputy governor.

Sonko’s close associates revealed that he had met Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka and a section of senators at the weekend to plead his case ahead of today’s sitting.

During the meeting with Kalonzo, Sonko is said to have pleaded with him to arrange a meeting with the President where he would offer his apologies.  Again, nothing materialised.

Tough conditions

Before his impeachment, Sonko is also said to have met ODM leader Raila Odinga where he is said to have been given tough conditions to sign the contested budget, which has thrown the county into a serious financial crisis.

“The governor enjoys a lot of support from the national leaders. He is widely accepted because of his philanthropic works.

He met Kalonzo and we are hopeful that the meeting will bear fruits,” said a source close to the governor who requested anonymity.

His spokesperson Ben Mulwa also confirmed that Sonko has been strategising on ways of retaining his seat.

 “We have a strategy which I cannot reveal for now. The governor is crystal clear that all the allegations raised against him will not see the light of day at the Senate. Some of the issues raised are even before a court of law,’ said Mulwa.

 Mulwa also confirmed the issue of the governor meeting several leaders but refused to divulge further details.

 “It is the prerogative of the governor to meet any leader he wishes,” said Mulwa.

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