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Nairobi mayor digs in at City Hall

Wednesday October 27 2010

From left: Muthurwa ward councillor James Gakuya and his nominated colleagues Tom Nyaga and Mutuga Mutugi confer after addressing a news conference at City Hall, Nairobi October 27, 2010. They demanded that mayor Geophrey Majiwa  leave office following graft charges. WILLIAM OERI

From left: Muthurwa ward councillor James Gakuya and his nominated colleagues Tom Nyaga and Mutuga Mutugi confer after addressing a news conference at City Hall, Nairobi October 27, 2010. They demanded that mayor Geophrey Majiwa leave office following graft charges. WILLIAM OERI  

By PETER LEFTIE

A defiant Nairobi mayor Geophrey Majiwa reported to office Wednesday and vowed not to step aside despite the corruption charges facing him.

The embattled mayor maintained that he will continue discharging his duties as the mayor of Nairobi because the new Constitution does not require him to step aside.

“Those lawyers saying I step aside are not lawyers, they are quacks. Let them read the new Constitution very well, I’m not a public officer,” he told Nation on phone.

Mr Majiwa, who was arraigned in court on Tuesday and denied four charges relating to the Sh283 million cemetery scandal reported to his office early morning and circulated a notice signed by the town clerk Philip Kisia calling for a special full council meeting later in the afternoon.

He remained holed up in the office for the better part of the morning even as civic leaders allied to the Party of National Unity (PNU) addressed a press conference at Charter Hall calling for his forceful ejection from office if he does not resign.

“The writing is on the wall for Majiwa.  We are going to eject him from that office if he does not leave,” charged Dagoretti ward councillor Thomas Ng’ang’a.

The councillors vowed to boycott the special council meeting accusing the mayor and Mr Kisia of ambushing them.

“The law says that we must be given a 24-hour notice to enable us prepare adequately, they have not done this, instead, they want to ambush us,” said nominated councillor Mutungi Mutunga.

Section 62 (1) of the Anti Corruption and Economic Crimes Act states that a public officer facing corruption charges must step aside until the case is heard and determined.

Reads the section;  “A public officer who is charged with corruption or economic crime shall be suspended at half pay, with effect from the date of the charge.”

“The public officer ceases to be suspended if the proceedings against him are discontinued or if he is acquitted,” the section further reads.

The Public Officer Ethics Act defines a public officer as including an officer or member of the government, national assembly, local authority or any state corporation.

The charges facing Mr Majiwa stated that he conspired to commit an offence of corruption by acquiring Sh283.2 million from the Ministry of Local Government purporting it to be the purchase price payable by the city Council for cemetery land at Mavoko municipality.

He was also accused of failing to ascertain whether the city council had received or accepted any offer from the seller of the land, Mr Henry Musyoki Kilonzo. He also faced the charge of appending his signature and seal to the transfer document of the land from Mr Kilonzi to the city council.

Lawyer Justin Muturi said the Anti-Corruption and Economic Crimes Act and the Public Officer Ethics Act required that Mr Majiwa steps aside until the corruption case he is facing is determined.

“He however continuers serving as  a councillor,” said the former Siakago MP.

Contacted over the matter, Local Government minister Musalia Mudavadi said he was waiting for a legal opinion from the Attorney General before commenting on Mr Majiwa’s fate.

“I need to get a proper legal opinion from the AG, I do not want to comment before I get the legal position,” he said.

At the press conference, the PNU civic leaders demanded that deputy mayor George Aladwa assumes the mayor’s office in an acting capacity until a new mayor is elected.

They also demanded that the town clerk convenes a full council meeting immediately to enable them elect the new mayor.

“We do not want a power vacuum. We are asking the town clerk to immediately call a full council meeting so that we can elect the new mayor,” said Mr Ng’ang’a.

There has been behind-the-scenes lobbying among councillors to succeed the embattled mayor since he was arrested on Monday morning in connection with the cemetery deal.

Councillors allied to ODM have been pushing for Mr Aladwa’s elevation to the mayoral position to replace Mr Majiwa. They have also suggested that nominated councillor Mweha Kamau replaces Mr Aladwa as the deputy mayor.

Their counterparts from PNU are yet to come up with a candidate for the mayoral post should a full council meeting be called to pick Mr Majiwa’s successor.

“We will deal with that matter when the time comes,”  Mr Mutunga said.