The Council of Governors (CoG) has waded into the debate on the legality of Governor Mike Sonko’s nomination of his deputy, saying he is right and free to do so.
This comes after the Director of Public Prosecutions Noordin Haji on Monday dismissed the nomination, terming it illegal and against bail terms that barred Mr Sonko from executing his duty as a governor until a corruption case against him is heard and determined.
However, CoG Chair Wycliffe Oparanya in a statement defended the nomination of Ms Ann Mwenda, saying it is in line with Article 180 (5) of the Constitution.
The Kakamega governor said the provision of the Constitution gives Mr Sonko the right to nominate a person qualified for nomination as a candidate for deputy governor.
He observed that as such, Governor Sonko is right and free to exercise his constitutional mandate as the head of the county to nominate a deputy governor, who will assist him to discharge his duties.
“We are glad that Mr Sonko has exercised his constitutional mandate as the head of Nairobi County to nominate a deputy governor ,who will assist him to discharge his duties,” said Mr Oparanya Wednesday.
Mr Sonko was barred from accessing his office at City Hall on December 11, 2019, with the magistrate saying saying he could only be escorted to pick his belongings.
At the same time, the council called on the county assembly to vet the nominee so as to r allow normalcy in the county and continued service delivery.
“We urge the county assembly to process the nominee in accordance with their mandate as enshrined in the law,” read the statement.
The CoG’s statement is in line with assertions from Mr Sonko’s lawyer Cecil Miller, who has also defended his client. He argued that the bail terms did not remove the governor from office but merely prevented him from accessing his physical office and communicating or approaching the intended witnesses.
He noted that the December ruling did not bar Mr Sonko from exercising constitutional and statutory functions of his office and so the nomination of Ms Mwenda does not in any way undermine the intended prosecution against the governor. “In light of the above….it is unreasonable to interpret the condition barring our client from office to amount to removal or suspension from office.”
“Our client is duty bound to perform all those functions which do not require his access to the office if the said functions can only be exercised by him.
“Such functions include the nomination of a deputy governor as provided by Article 180(5) of the Constitution,” added Mr Miller.