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Sonko denies graft charges

Monday December 09 2019
By NATION TEAM

Nairobi County Governor Mike Sonko pleaded not guilty to corruption charges at the Milimani law courts Monday morning.

He was charged before Anti-Corruption Court Chief Magistrate Douglas Ogoti.

State prosecutors said it wants Sonko denied bail due to his previous convictions, noting that they considered him a flight risk.

He has two previous convictions and a warrant of arrest issued by a Mombasa court.

Embakasi East legislator Babu Owino, Nandi Hills MP Alfred Keter and Kericho Senator Aaron Cheruiyot were among the MPs in court.

Lawyers representing Sonko include Cecil Miller, Senators Kipchumba Murkomen and Mutula Kilonzo Junior, George Kithi, Daniel Maanzo, Nelson Havi, Alphonse Mutinda and Harrison Kinyanjui.

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He was moved from Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) offices after 7 am in handcuffs and taken to Upper Hill area amid tight security.

Community area and the area surrounding Milimani law courts had been cordoned off by anti-riot police.

DRAMA-FREE

His journey from the holding cell at Integrity Centre to Milimani was smooth, a departure from the dramatic scenes he staged last week during his arrest in Voi and subsequent airlift to Wilson Airport.

Clad in a white T-shirt, a black cap and a black jacket with golden prints, Sonko did not cause any commotion as he was led into a white van.

At the Milimani law courts, he alighted and walked to the underground holding cell.

This comes after the Director of Public Prosecutions Noordin Haji last Friday ordered his immediate arrest and arraignment over alleged corruption.

Mr Haji said investigations by anti-corruption agency EACC had collected sufficient evidence to sustain graft charges.

The governor and a host of county officials are facing prosecution over irregular payments amounting to Sh357 million.

By choosing to cooperate, Sonko seemed to be leading from the front after calling on his supporters to stay “calm” as he faces his accusers in court.

On Sunday evening, the Jubilee politician took to Facebook to urge his backers not to stage street protests and let him “pambana na hali yangu'' (handle my situation).

“I wish to call upon all my loyal supporters and well-wishers to remain calm and stay at home or go to their usual places of work from tomorrow (Monday), as I get processed to appear before a court of law,” he said.

“I am a law abiding citizen and I therefore ask my supporters to stay away from the courts or any other activities that may threaten the peace”.

Peace and stability of Nairobi, he said, is more important than “anything else”.

“Kwa hivyo tafadhalini nawaomba muwache nipambane na hali yangu ninapofikishwa mahakamani kesho asubuhi kujibu mashtaka yanayonikabidhi (I urge you to let me handle my situation as I’m arraigned tomorrow morning to face charges levelled against me,” he added as he pleaded for prayers from his fans and “haters”.

But even as he chose to embrace peace, the governor still expressed unease with the manner in which he was arrested and locked up.

“In the last three months, I have been summoned by the EACC four times; I have faithfully honoured all the summons,” he said.

“Question is, what was so difficult for Mr Noordin Haji or Mr Twalib Mbarak to follow the same process of summoning me to present myself at the EACC offices for processing and charging?”

ASSAULT

Sonko is also expected to appear before the Voi law courts, Taita-Taveta County, on Monday to answer to charges of assault.

According to police sources, the governor will be taken to Voi to take a plea in a case in which he is accused of assaulting Coast regional police commander Rashid Yakub.

Over 150 police officers have been deployed in Voi town to prevent any protests when the governor is taken before court.

Sonko suffered a blow last Friday after a judge declined to grant his request for anticipatory bail following his dramatic arrest in Voi.

During his arrest, Sonko allegedly became violent and assaulted the coast police boss by kicking him.

According to the charge sheet seen by the Nation, he will be charged with assaulting a police officer who was on duty. Sonko will also be charged with two other counts of obstructing lawful arrest and offensive conduct.

He was arrested at a roadblock in Voi along the Nairobi-Mombasa highway a few hours after the Director of Public Prosecutions Noordin Haji ordered his arrest.

The governor was involved in a scuffle with police at Ikanga airstrip before he boarded a police chopper that had been sent to airlift him to Nairobi for questioning.

Report by Sam Kiplagat, Lucy Mkanyika and Claire Wasilwa

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