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Why alleged contempt could land Sonko in more trouble

Wednesday January 15 2020

Governor Mike Sonko

Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko at the Milimani Anti-Corruption Court on December 9, 2019, where he denied 19 charges related to corruption and abuse of office in the loss of Sh357 million. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

DAVID MWERE
By DAVID MWERE
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Nairobi City County Governor Mike Sonko could be headed for more trouble if he is found culpable of being involved in approval for payment of pending bills despite a court order barring him from office.

This comes after the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) launched investigations into suspected violation of the court order as well as allegations of corruption in the award of tenders by the county in the year 2017/18.

Mr Sonko was barred from accessing his county office in December 2019, pending determination of a graft case against him.

However, the EACC believes that he may be using one of his private offices at Upper Hill to transact the county business in connivance with his trusted lieutenants at City Hall.

In a letter to acting City County Secretary Simon Leboo Morintat, EACC boss Twalib Mbarak wants the commission to be furnished with the documentation that will help unmask what may constitute blatant disregard of court orders.

“The EACC is investigating the pending bills at the Nairobi County government. Kindly note that you are required to provide documents and information on or before January 16, 2020 at Integrity Centre,” Mr Mbarak says in the letter of January 13, 2020.

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Last Friday, Director of Public Prosecutions Noordin Haji filed an application to have Governor Sonko’s bail terms cancelled after he nominated Ms Anne Mwenda as his deputy.

Mr Haji argues that the nomination is a violation of the bail terms imposed on him. If the court validates the application, Mr Sonko will have no option but attend court from remand cells.

The latest probe comes after it emerged that some documents on pending bills are being ferried to Mr Sonko’s private office. This came to light after some individuals contracted by City Hall filed complaints of being blackmailed before they get paid.

Meanwhile, the hearing of the Sh357m corruption case against the governor has been pushed to January 27 after a dispute arose between the defence and prosecution over the manner in which the trial should proceed. It also emerged that some three suspects were involved in plea bargaining.

State prosecutor James Kihara told anti-corruption chief magistrate Lawrence Mugambi that yesterday's mention was to confirm the status of another case on disclosure of evidence.

The request was, however, opposed by Sonko’s defence lawyers saying “no order was given to await the outcome of the high court case.”

Additional reporting by Richard Munguti

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