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Sonko impeachment gathers steam as MCAs move motion

Thursday February 20 2020

BRIAN OKINDA
By BRIAN OKINDA
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COLLINS OMULO
By COLLINS OMULO
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Nairobi MCAs have formally begun the process of impeaching Governor Mike Sonko after months of toying up with the idea.

They are set to table a motion to impeach Governor Mike Sonko, for reasons including holding the county at ransom with the lack of a deputy governor.

Minority Whip and Makongeni MCA Peter Imwatok, who moved the motion on Thursday, also cited gross violation of the Constitution, incompetency and an inability to lead.

The MCAs further accused Sonko of being unable to control Nairobi's debts and clear pending bills, gross misconduct and bringing the office of the governor to disrepute.

OTHER GROUNDS

Mr Imwatok cited 15 grounds for removal of the governor, who has been barred from accessing his office at City Hall since last December following his arrest and arraignment over a Sh357 million graft case

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He complained of fear and intimidation, which affects service delivery; casual and unilateral sackings of officers including through social media such as Whatsapp; unorthodox means of punishing those deemed to be rivals to settle scores and irregular awarding of multimillion tenders to single contractors,.

Other grounds were violation of protocols in procurement of goods and services, irregular procurement in projects including the Dandora Stadium, inability to constitute a working cabinet with almost all CECs working in acting capacity and exhibition of incompetency evidenced by the county’s inability to collect garbage.

Mr Imwatok also cited failure to put in place a proper revenue collection system, leading to monetary loss and dwindling revenue, and the irregular issuance of title deeds to Eastlands residents.

He said they were asked to pay a Sh30, 000 processing fee yet the deeds have not been issued months later.

There were also allegations of unaccounted-for cash withdrawals under Sonko’s instructions, lack of building approvals by the planning department for over seven months, irregular payment of legal fees to contracted firms and incessant traffic congestion in the capital.

Also in the list were lack of street lights, which the MCA said has resulted in crimes in the central business district, and behaving in a manner not fitting the status of a governor by undertaking practices such as indulging in alcohol consumption while in office. 

SIGNATURES

Sixty two of the county’s 122 MCAs on Thursday appended their signatures in support of the motion, in the move which could see impeachment proceedings activated in seven days.

However, Dandora 2 MCA Silas Matara caused a stir during verification of the signatures, saying a substantive clerk need to conduct the process as required by the law.

He argued that Clerk Jacob Ngwele, who was ejected last year but recalled by the court, was the substantive office holder but noted that the assembly rejected his name and that Monica Muthami was appointed in acting capacity.

Speaker Beatrice Elachi said the House revoked Mr Ngwele’s name on the floor after forming an ad hoc committee to look into his appointment.

“You all are aware that Ngwele is similarly wanted by the Dubai courts over payments. Do you wish to bring a wanted person into a house of law and procedures?”

She further reminded Mr Matara that the ad hoc committee's report to revoke Ngwele’s name was adopted by the House so he is no longer recognised as the clerk.

A brief shouting march ensued during the plenary session, with Roysambu MCA Peter Warutere walking out of the chambers.

As a result, Speaker Elachi ordered him to keep off the assembly for a week.

DEPUTY MATTER

The county has lacked a deputy governor since Polycarp Igathe resigned in January 2018, saying he had failed to earn the governor's trust.

Some MCAs called for Sonko's arrest over the nomination, noting he had been barred from office and so may have violated terms of his release from police custody over a Sh357 million corruption case.

Soon after Sonko nominated Ms Mwenda, the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) wrote to Speaker Beatrice Elachi asking for the original letter of nomination.

The commission sought to establish the procedure used to nominate Ms Mwenda, who has been serving as the Disaster Management Chief Officer.

GRAFT CASE

Sonko was barred from office last December for investigations into loss of the Sh357 million.

He and several others face 19 charges of corruption, abuse of office and irregular payments that saw the county lose that amount of money. They have all denied the charges.

The governor was released on a cash bail of Sh15 million.

PLOT

Amid the troubles his county is facing, Sonko has made moves to scuttle plans for this removal from office.

He has reached out to all Jubilee Party ward representatives to stop the process spearheaded by members in the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM).

On Thursday morning, he called the MCAs to a meeting at his Upper Hill private office to forestall any plans to oust him.

The impeachment cloud has been hanging over Governor Sonko's head since December 2019.

Early in February, Mr Imwatok reported threats to his life at Central Police Station but vowed to soldier on with the impeachment plan, saying he had already collected enough signatures.

“We are determined ... once the assembly resumes the governor has to give an account to the people of Nairobi, especially on Chapter Six of the Constitution. We are not going to relent on this," he said at the time.

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