A recording has emerged of Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko implying that President Uhuru Kenyatta is controlling the ongoing crackdown on illegal buildings.
Sonko made the insinuation on Wednesday in an apparent phone conversation with Kiambu Governor Ferdinand Waititu, who was seeking the release of his wife.
Sonko explains to Waititu that the arrest was an order from above and adds that "unajua mimi Nairobi nimekaliwa". He urges the Kiambu Governor to call State House.
Waititu's wife Susan Wangare and 13 other others were arrested earlier on Wednesday over the construction of illegal buildings in Nairobi.
Among them are the owners of the Jamii Bora building and Delta Hotel.
In the recording, Sonko notes that the intensified war on corruption followed a presidential order but asks Waititu to let him break the law and secure the release of his wife.
But he refuses to help the others apprehended alongside Wangare, who include Robert Rukwaro, Simon Ngare, Julius Mukala, Kyalo Musyoka, Dickson Mulinga, Paul Mutunga and Johson Wambua.
The others are Dickson Kyalo, Joseph Muiruri, Charles Mwanzi, Sammy Kithus, Alexander Mbithi and Paul Shivanga.
Waititu tells Sonko: "Achilia mama na watu wote, Sonko bwana ... unakumbuka vile tumezunguka na wewe hii Nairobi? Na bado tunaenda mbali (Release my wife and all the others. Remember how we struggled in Nairobi ... we are still advancing).
Sonko tells him: "Navunja sheria kwa kuwachilia mama because wewe ni colleague wangu. Lakini hao wengine pigia mdosi ama Waita (I am breaking the law by securing the release of our wife. Call the boss or Waita concerning the others)."
Waititu wonders why his friend asks him to call State House yet he is the county boss.
It is at this point that Sonko says: "Ona, ona, unajua mimi Nairobi nimekaliwa na order inatoka juu."
This directly translates to: "You see, in Nairobi I have been sat on ... the order is from above."
Waititu insists that only Sonko can help him. The Nairobi county chief admits that Wangare broke the law but tells his colleague that he will issue a permit, raising questions about his warnings that all illegal buildings in the capital will be torn down.
"Mimi nasaidia mama anatoka sahi...halafu kuja nikupe approval (I am helping your wife ... she will be released shortly ... then you can come for the approval," he says.
Sonko also speaks to Waititu's wife and asks her to apply for permits, while noting that he is breaking the law for her. Wangare notes that "watu wangu wako ndani (my people are in cell)".
She says she paid for approvals but Sonko reiterates that the order was from above and that permission had not been given for the construction.
He then speaks to another person, a police officer, and tells him to set the bail figure at Sh10,000. Reports indicated, however, that Wangare was freed on a cash bail of Sh80,000.
The arrest came amid the National Environment Management Authority's efforts to reclaim riparian reserves.
Waititu earlier said that instead of the destruction, property owners should be forced to "divert rivers". He also said Nema and Nairobi county should look for an alternative to the demolition.
Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko told him to keep off the capital's matters.