Sonko replaces Leboo Morintat as acting county secretary

Wednesday March 18 2020
Morintat

Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko with county officials including Leboo Morintat during an executives' meeting at City Hall on January 19, 2018. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

By COLLINS OMULO

Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko has replaced his right-hand man, Leboo Morintat, as acting county secretary as he battles to remain in control at City Hall.

The governor made the move amid plans for his impeachment, the notice having been tabled last week by Minority Whip Peter Imwatok (Makongeni).

The governor has appointed Urban Planning Chief Officer Justus Kathenge to replace Mr Morintat.

Mr Kathenge made a comeback in January after more than four months in the cold following his suspension last August.

“Pursuant to the provisions of Section 44 of the County Government Act 2012, you are hereby appointed the county secretary in an acting capacity ... with effect from February 20, 2020,” Sonko wrote in a February 19 letter to him.

"RELIABLE SERVANT"

Mr Morintat, who retains his position as Deputy County Secretary and Public Service Management Chief Officer, has been Sonko’s blue-eyed boy.

He has been calling the shots and chairing meetings at City Hall since the governor was barred from office last year following corruption charges over loss of Sh357 million of the county's money.

As a show of their close ties, Sonko created a deputy county secretary's post in September 2018 for Morintat. The position is not anchored in law.

The Sonko-Morintat relationship has been strained by investigations at City Hall, which have seen the former summoned on numerous occasions to record statements and provide documents at the offices of the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) and the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI).

In a statement on the changes, however, communications director Elkana Jacob said: "Mr Leboo remains one of the most resourceful and reliable servants for the people of Nairobi. He is an inspiration to young staff at City Hall."

MANY CHANGES

Mr Morintat's replacement is not an isolated case as Sonko has been making changes said to target those who will not bow to his whims.

In January, the governor sacked Finance Executive Pauline Kahiga after failed attempts to remove her from office over payment of Sh1.4 billion pending bills.

Sonko’s bid to replace Ms Kahiga with Allan Igambi failed after Government Press Chief Executive Officer Mwenda Njoka rejected her de-gazettement.

The legal battle over occupation of the Finance office is now before the Attorney-General.

MORE DRAMA

There has been drama at City Hall over the removal of several people, including Speaker Beatrice Elachi, from office.

Two weeks ago, a crowd tried to remove Economic Planning Executive Washington Makodingo from office after he refused to clear some pending bills.

“Some rowdy men had been sent to kick me out of office because I refused to pay part of the pending bills as ordered by the county boss. I knew that if I did, it would raise problems,” said Mr Makodingo.

On January 27, Mr Tito Kilonzi, who was City Hall’s Security and Compliance Chief Officer and the governor's close ally, was recalled by the National Police Service for redeployment.

However, his replacement, Mr Patrick Mwakio, is yet to receive an acceptance letter from the county's Public Service Board and the county secretary.

“I was also told that a vehicle would be given to me but I am still waiting,” Mr Mwakio told the assembly's Legal and Justice Committee last Thursday.