UNEASE AT CITY HALL

Sonko threatens to sack six executives, chief officers for disloyalty

Governor says the officers have joined the cartels that have been draining the county of development

In Summary

• Sonko accused the officers of hiding complaint letters sent by residents.

• County chief has suspended at least 40 county officers since he took the oath of office in August 2017.

Members of the Nairobi County Executive Committee
Members of the Nairobi County Executive Committee
Image: EZEKIEL AMING'A

Top City Hall officers are no longer at ease after Governor Mike Sonko threatened to sack more than half of his cabinet for disloyalty and insubordination.

The flamboyant county chief on Monday said six executives and three chief officers have joined cartels that drain the county of development. His remarks have caused an unsettling effect on City Hall, as senior officials wait for his next course of action with bated breath.

Sonko cited the Lands and Planning department, whose officers he said have been co-opted by racketeers to the extent that they now make sensitive decisions without his input.

"The Lands and Planning department has been flouting the Physical Planning Act by allowing developers, the majority being Chinese, to put more and higher floors than the zoning of some estates or areas at a fee of millions per any additional floor," Sonko said.

"At some point, the additional floors are even given and shared between the developers and senior county officers for this kind of impunity to go on."

Sonko accused the officers of hiding complaint letters sent by residents.

"When letters of complaints are written by various residents’ associations, they are stamped, received and hidden by the CECM for Lands or chief officer for planning not to reach to my attention while thousands of residents continue to secretly protest thinking I have ignored their requests," he said.

In a bid to prove the rot in the department, Sonko took issue with a former deputy governor, whom he did not name, for building a 15-storey building, in partnership with some developers, along Kauria Close, off Othaya Road, on Kileleshwa estate.

He said zoning for the area restricts buildings to four floors. It was not clear whether he was referring to Polycarp Igathe, his former deputy who resigned in January last year, or Jonathan Mueke, who deputised former Governor Evans Kidero.

"Despite several complaints by area residents about this impunity, the development is ongoing," the county chief said.

Sonko won’t sit back and watch impunity take root in the city and will not hesitate to sack the officers to restore order at City Hall, he said, promising to crack the whip. Should he make good his threat, he will have taken his cue from Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya, who, last week, suspended 143 revenue staff over corruption allegations.

Since his election, Sonko has suspended and sacked more than 500 officers over graft and insubordination claims. He said the officers were part of a corruption syndicate that had been defrauding the county of billions of shillings.

On September 18 last year, Sonko suspended county secretary Peter Kariuki, Devolution, and acting Health executive Veska Kangogo, Health Services chief officer Mahat Jimale and county attorney Lydia Kwamboka.

The four officers contradicted him on the cause of death of 11 infants at Pumwani Maternity Hospital. News of the deaths had caused a public uproar. The bodies were stashed in polythene bags.

On June 5 last year, Kangogo had also been suspended, again for insubordination claims, after she allegedly travelled to the US without Sonko's permission.

Earlier, on April 19 last year, at least 30 procurement staff were sent on forced leave for allegedly inflating prices and issuing local purchase orders without approval. They were accused of failing to adhere to the Public Finance Management Act and the Public Procurement and Asset Disposal Act, leading to loss of funds.

On April 5 last year, Sonko terminated the contract of Finance executive Danvas Makori for poor performance and for allegedly spying for former Governor Kidero.

(Edited by F'Orieny)