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Shimo la Tewa ghost likely to haunt Sonko in court date

Sunday December 08 2019
SONPIC

Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko is led into the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission offices in Nairobi on December 6, 2019. He is facing graft charges. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

By IBRAHIM ORUKO

Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko will be arraigned in court Monday on corruption charges.

He faces eight counts relating to the loss of Sh357 million from public coffers even as President Uhuru Kenyatta reiterated that the fight against graft will be sustained and that no one will be spared in the purge.

The governor, who has remained locked up at the EACC headquarters at Integrity Centre since his dramatic arrest on Friday, will face charges related to conflict of interest, unlawful acquisition of public property, money laundering and other economic crimes.

Police also announced that he may face charges of assault and resisting arrest at the Ikanga airstrip in Voi on Friday.

“He was abusive, unruly and violent in an attempt to resist arrest, hence obstructing police officers from the lawful execution of their duties. In the process, he assaulted and injured a senior police officer leading the team and damaged media equipment,” the National Police Service said in a statement on Saturday.

PRISON ESCAPE

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Sonko will be charged with, among other offences, abuse of office in the award of tenders in Nairobi. Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Noordin Haji said on Friday that the governor and his cronies presided over a corrupt system that led to the embezzlement of at least Sh357 million.

Others to be charged alongside Sonko are county secretary Peter Mbugua, head of supply chain management Patrick Mwangangi and tender committee members Samuel Ndung’u, Edwin Kariuki, Lawrence Mwangi, Preston Miriti and senior clerical officers Wambua Ndaka and Andrew Nyasiego.

Sources at the DPP’s office intimated his escape from Shimo la Tewa Prison will be an issue of consideration when he is finally presented to court.

The National Security Advisory Committee (NSAC) has considered and discussed the issue but the Nation could not verify the decision it made.

“If you followed the statement by DPP Noordin Haji, you may have noticed he used many aliases to describe the governor,” the source told the Nation, without elaborating.

“The aim of using the aliases is an indicator that the DPP wanted to cast the net wider for crimes against the governor and ensure the description fits well with all the crimes he committed in the past,” the source said.

GRAFT WAR

In his Friday briefing, Mr Haji described the governor variously as Kioko Mike Sonko Mbuvi Gidion, as gazetted in August 2017, Mbuvi Gidion Kioko Mike Sonko, Mbuvi Gidion Kioko, Mike Sonko Mbuvi Gidion Kioko, and Mbuvi Gidion Kioko Sonko.

The identity of the person who escaped from the prison is given as Gedion Mbuvi Kioko, who broke out just three months into a one-year jail sentence.

Sonko spent his third night at Integrity Centre where he has been since his arrest in Voi on Friday.

Only family members and members of his legal team were allowed to see him, but under tight security.

At a church function on Sunday, President Uhuru Kenyatta said the fight against corruption is not an individual initiative but rather a collective effort that should involve all the 47 million Kenyans.

The President spoke when he attended a church service at St Francis of Assisi Catholic Church in Ruiru, Kiambu County, and later conducted a funds drive for the completion of a sanctuary.

He urged leaders not to politicise the war against corruption. He said individuals who have been implicated should carry their own cross.

“When you were engaging in corruption, you were doing so for yourself and you should carry your own cross,” he added.

CAREER END

Kiambu Deputy Governor James Nyoro, who also attended the service, challenged leaders from the county to set a good example in the fight against corruption instead of passively supporting the President when they attend his events.

If the State goes ahead to reintroduce the issue of the 1998 prison escape, this could mark the end of Mr Sonko’s political career, which has been on an upward trajectory since he was first elected Makadara MP in a by-election in 2010.

Sonko was convicted on March 12, 1998 and sentenced to a six-month jail term or a Sh200,000 fine.

In another case, he was ordered to pay Sh500,000 fine or serve six months in prison for failing to appear in court.

The governor could not raise the fines and was committed to Shimo la Tewa Prison to serve both sentences, which totalled to 12 months.

But he served for only one month before he escaped on April 16, 1998.

Legal experts argue that he will have to go back to prison to complete the sentence (11 months) with the possibility of facing another charge of escaping from lawful custody.

Whatever happens in court today will have a significant bearing on the political career of the controversial governor.

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