The Senate heard that Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko treated one of his daughters Saumu Agnes Mbuvi to a lavish trip to New York City at the expense of the taxpayer.
That was during the house’s plenary trial of the governor following his impeachment by the Nairobi County Assembly.
While tabling evidence for the ouster of the governor, County assembly Minority Leader Michael Ogada averred that Sonko flew his daughter in a first-class flight to the US which translated in the misappropriation of public funds.
Ogada told the plenary that the governor’s daughter spent Sh220,000 on a chopper flying around New York City, and another “offside party at Sh260,000 from first lady’s conference in Philadelphia,” where Sh60,000 was spent on the trip. He further claimed that Sh120,000 was given to reporters and additional Sh300,000 on transport.
Mr Ogada testified that a county official was tasked with withdrawing Sh2.6 million from the county’s account, which she handed governor Sonko’s bodyguard to be used for facilitation by her daughter.
“The Sh2.6 million used on per diem, a junior officer from the county was forced to go and withdraw it using her name in the company of a bodyguard of His Excellency the Governor. After withdrawing the cash, the bodyguard walked away with [money],” Ogada testified.
He further told the House that part of the money was wired directly to the airline which later processed the air ticket for the daughter.
Harrison Kinyanjui is representing Governor Sonko. Lawyer Ndegwa Njiru Kinyanjui — who represented the Kirinyaga County Assembly in the impeachment of Governor Anne Waiguru — is leading the assembly team.
Sonko was impeached on December 2, after 88 members voted in favour of Mr Ogada’s impeachment motion.
“Members you have made a decision and the assembly has resolved to remove Sonko from office by two-thirds of the members,” said Speaker Benson Mutura after the vote.
The assembly accused the governor of gross violation of the Constitution and related laws, abuse of office and gross misconduct, and crimes under the national law.
Ogada pointed out that the governor bypassed crucial procurement procedures in the building of the Dandora Stadium. He also accused the governor of sanctioning tax relief in the county behind the backs of the county assembly members contrary to the law. The governor was also accused bragging about his criminal past.
A standoff ensued as Mr Ogada wanted to play audio and video clips to pin down Sonko at the dissatisfaction of some senators who were alarmed by the choice of words the county chief used in the clips.
“The audio clip cannot be played… I am a mother and a wife and the children are watching,” Nominated Senator Millicent Omanga protested.
Nonetheless, a series of video and audio clips rolled eliciting giggles and laughter from the lawmakers. In the background, the governor could be heard hurling insults as his accusers made their case against him.
According to the assembly, the governor at some point told President Uhuru Kenyatta to help him run the county and rid it of rampant corruption by transferring its critical functions to the National Government. But when he signed the Deed of Transfer with the National Government, he refused to surrender crucial documentation to the Kenya Revenue Authority for revenue collection.
Sonko was also faulted for breaching public trust he owned up to signing the Deed of Transfer of crucial county functions to the Nairobi Metrpolititan service while drunk. His exchange with Nairobi Woman Rep Esther Passaris also played out as the county chief was accused of using insensitive language towards women.
Mr Kinyanjui turned the table on Ogada when he sought to know the politician had surrendered money he had taken as travel imprest but didn’t.
Ogada fumbled when Mr Kinyanjui asked him to confirm to the Senate whether he travelled to Dubai despite pocketing Sh800,000 from the county government. He said he never travelled due to the preparation of the impeachment motion.
Kinyanjui questioned whether Ogada could confirm that all the requisite documents were tabled before the Senate Speaker, but the request was challenged by some lawmakers like Kakamega Senator Amos Wako who argued that it was the duty of the clerks and speakers of the Senate and the county assembly to ensure that all the necessary documents were in place.
The impeachment hearing was postponed last week after Majority Leader Samuel Poghisio withdrew his motion for the formation of a special committee.
Thereafter Speaker Kenneth Lusaka set Tuesday as the new date but did not give details for the changes.
“Pursuant to the Senate Standing Orders, on the request of the Senate Majority Leader with the support of the requisite number of senators, I have appointed Wednesday, December 16, and Thursday, December 17 as days for special sittings of the Senate to investigate the proposed removal from office, by impeachment, of Mike Mbuvi Sonko, the governor of Nairobi City County,” he said in a notice published in the Kenya Gazette.
Sonko needs at least 23 senators out of the 46 elected to reject his impeachment to survive. This is after the demise of Machakos Senator Boniface Kabaka.
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