By Julius Otieno- Courtesy of “The Star Newspaper”
Embattled Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko is deploying a multi-pronged strategy to scuttle his removal as senators convene on Wednesday to decide how to handle his impeachment.
Sonko has assembled a team of top lawyers led by Cecil Miller and George Kithi who are compiling evidence to dismantle a case by the county assembly whose members voted to impeach him last Thursday.
The governor is building his case around the number of MCAs declared to have voted in favour of his removal and the legality of the virtual voting system during the sitting.
The lawyers are also expected to troop to court on Monday to challenge his removal, which the governor says was riddled with illegalities and irregularities.
Sonko’s behind-the-scene activities emerged as Senate Speaker Kenneth Lusaka is expected to gazette a special sitting to consider the case against the governor.
“On Wednesday, we have a special sitting. We had gone on recess, but because Nairobi MCAs have impeached their governor, they are now coming to me and on Wednesday the senators will decide. I am just a referee,” Lusaka said.
Lusaka spoke at Christ the King Catholic Church in Bungoma on Sunday. He was accompanied by Senators Moses Wetang’ula (Bungoma), George Khaniri (Vihiga) and Cleophas Malala (Kakamega).
Senate Minority Chief Whip Mutula Kilonzo Jr said the speaker approved Wednesday’s sitting after receiving a petition, backed by 15 senators, from Majority leader Samuel Poghisio to convene the session.
“The timeline says we have to convene by Wednesday. We will convene on Wednesday to determine the method of going about the case. Once the sitting is gazetted, the Senate Business committee will meet to decide on what to transact because there must be a motion on the floor,” Mutula said.
Section 33 (3) of the County Governments Act states that seven days after receiving a notice of a resolution from the speaker of a county assembly, the Senate speaker shall convene a sitting to hear the charges against the governor.
On Wednesday, the senators shall, by resolution, form a special committee of 11 members to hear grounds for the governor’s removal or decide to prosecute the case in the plenary.
Sonko, the Star has established, is piecing together evidence to counter the county assembly’s assertion that 88 MCAs voted for his impeachment.
“The entire session was aired live and it was seen that 57 out of the 122 members were not in the chamber. Also, 23 MCAs clearly complained their accounts were hacked,” Sonko told the Star.
“How come these people voted? It means somebody voted on their behalf, which is criminal,” he said.
However, Assembly Minority leader Michael Ogada dismissed the hacking claims as the kicks of a dying horse, saying Sonko’s time as governor was up because of his “inadequacies”.
“What was the need of hacking the accounts? Voting was done along party lines and people were on instructions. They knew what they were supposed to do,” Ogada said.
Ogada said all the MCAs had express instructions from their party leaders to vote in favour of the motion. “These people voted. He (Sonko) is just trying to cling on to anything around,” he said.
The governor is also disputing the legality of the online voting system and asked why members were forced to vote virtually instead of being physically present at the chambers.
The governor says there were no strong grounds for his removal, insisting that his refusal to assent to the “skewed” county budget was the cause of his troubles.
“They just want to coerce me to sign the budget that gives NMS (Nairobi Metropolitan Services) at least Sh30 billion from our budget,” he said.
Sonko said he would like his impeachment handled by all the 67 senators as opposed to a committee of 11 members.
He is accused of abuse of office, violation of the Constitution and gross misconduct. His refusal to assent to the budget was at the centre of the impeachment.
Sonko declined to approve the budget, saying there was no way MCAs could allocate NMS Sh27 billion out of the Sh37.5 billion budget.