'NO CRISIS'

We'are firmly in charge despite Sonko's problems, say ward reps

There is neither panic nor crisis at City Hall

In Summary

• Governor Sonko was last week quizzed by both the anti-graft agency and the taxman

• Sonko is yet to name a deputy despite promising to do so last week

Nairobi County Assembly MCAs lead by Majority leader Abdi Hassan (centre) at City Hall on Septmber 10,2019.
Nairobi County Assembly MCAs lead by Majority leader Abdi Hassan (centre) at City Hall on Septmber 10,2019.
Image: EZEKIEL AMINGA

The Nairobi County Assembly remains unshaken despite Governor Mike Sonko's graft-related problems, leader of Majority Abdi Hassan Guyo says.

There is neither panic nor crisis at City Hall, Guyo said on Tuesday.

”Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko is in office. He has not been charged nor should people speculate that he will be charged,” he said.

Guyo dismissed reports in some media outlets that if Sonko is charged the county will be in a crisis as he has no deputy to take over or a substantive Speaker.

He said the Constitution is clear on what happens when the office of the governor is vacant.

"(Beatrice) Elachi was impeached by the county assembly of Nairobi and she is no longer our speaker and therefore she cannot take over,” Guyo said.

”We have our speaker Chege Mwaura who is the leader of the assembly courtesy of the County Government  Act and Elachi is nowhere in terms of assembly leadership,” he stated.

Last week Sonko was grilled by the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission for nine hours over garbage collection tenders graft allegations.

Nairobi has had no deputy governor for 19 months. Sonko announced on Thursday after he appeared before Kenya Revenue Authority that he was ready to name one and step aside if charged with graft.

However, he is yet to act on his word.

Former Nairobi Deputy Governor Polycarp Igathe and Governor Mike Sonko during their swearing-in as Nairobi county bosses at Uhuru Park, August 21, 2017.
Former Nairobi Deputy Governor Polycarp Igathe and Governor Mike Sonko during their swearing-in as Nairobi county bosses at Uhuru Park, August 21, 2017.
Image: ENOS TECHE

Lawyer Demas Kiprono told the Star yesterday that the law is not clear on what happens in situations where governors refuse to name a deputy.

Kiprono explained that Nairobi has two speakers – Elachi, who is not recognised by the assembly  -  and Mwaura who is acting. The law does not provide a way forward in case of such an occurrence.

He further said it is not clear that Sonko has deliberately refused to name a deputy.

But lawyer Nelson Havi was certain that Mwaura, who is the Ngara MCA, would take over were Sonko to step aside.

“Beatrice Elachi is not the speaker as there is already someone acting in her capacity. The acting speaker will take over and not Elachi whose ability to lead has been put to challenge and is still a matter subject to a court determination,” Havi explained.

 Kenya Chapter 11 of the Constitution says that the office of the governor becomes vacant if the governor dies or resigns by writing to the speaker.

The office also becomes vacant if the governor is convicted of an offence punishable by imprisonment for at least 12 months or is removed from office as per the Constitution.

“If a vacancy occurs in the office of county governor, the deputy county governor shall assume office as county governor for the remainder of the term of the county governor,” the Constitution states.

And if a vacancy occurs in both the office of county governor and that of his deputy or if the deputy county governor is unable to act, the speaker shall act as the governor.

Havi said the law demands that Sonko should have a deputy. “It cannot be that out of all the 47 counties, only Nairobi lacks a deputy governor.” 

In April, Sonko appeared before the Senate and stonewalled calls for him to name a deputy. His response was that it was "a non-issue".

He said no law or Supreme Court advisory compels him to name a deputy and he will refuse to do so until Parliament passes the County Government (Amendment Bill) 2017 and the President signs it.

He dismissed as non-binding a Supreme Court advisory of March last year giving governors 14 days to appoint deputies.

Havi said Sonko’s refusal to name a deputy put his ability to govern in question because he treats the office as personal property.

“The office of the County Governor is an office in the public service and Sonko has put the management of the county Government of Nairobi into jeopardy. It would be prudent if there was a deputy Governor,” he said.

Former deputy Governor Polycarp Igathe resigned 19 months ago.

In May last year, Sonko nominated controversial lawyer Miguna Miguna as his deputy. The appointment was rejected by MCAs.

In August, he shortlisted Agnes Kagure,  Margaret Wanjiru, Karen Nyamu and Jane Weru for nomination to the post of his deputy.

The names were never forwarded to the office of the speaker.