Nairobi Senator Johnson Sakaja has said embattled Governor Mike Sonko should remain in office until his corruption case is ruled and determined.
Speaking to KTN News Sakaja said, “An elected official must be able to continue serving until they are proven guilty. What needs to be prevented is that person interfering with the evidence or the witnesses.”
“I believe he deserves a fair trial, the issues that are raised are weighty and there needs to be a sense of fairness,” the Senator added.
Sakaja also criticised the manner in which Governor Sonko was arrested in Voi on Friday.
“I think there would have been a better way of handling a governor who is elected by the people. We saw him being pushed around…Every accused person deserves to be treated with dignity,” Sakaja said.
Nairobi Senator Johnson Sakaja and Governor Mike Sonko/ COURTESY
But activist Boniface Mwangi alleged Sakaja is defending Sonko to protect his business interests.
“Senator @SakajaJohnson needs Nairobi County government, he runs an outdoor advertising business in this city. The last time he dared criticise Governor @MikeSonko, his outdoor advertising business was vandalised and he lost business. Sakaja must toe the line or lose business!” he said on Twitter.
Justice Mumbi Ngugi earlier this year ruled that governors should step aside once charged for a criminal offence and declared a section of the law protecting them unconstitutional.
She termed Section 62(6) of the Anti-Corruption and Economic Crimes Act which state officers have been using to hang onto office as “entrenching corruption and impunity in the land”.
“It seems to me that Section 62(6) apart from obfuscating…are contrary to the constitutional requirements of integrity in governance, are against the national values and principals of governance and principles of leadership and integrity in Chapter Six,”Ngugi ruled.
Governors Ferdinand Waititu (Kiambu) and Moses Lenolkulal (Samburu) have so far been barred from accessing their offices, and their deputies are acting.
However, Sonko has not named a deputy since Polycarp Igathe resigned last year, posing a constitutional crisis in the county.
Perhaps expecting Sonko will be barred from office in Wednesday’s bail hearing and ruling, Sakaja said the courts should pronounce themselves on what happens in this case because there is no deputy governor.
“The courts cannot create a problem and stay silent. If they fail to do that, then as a senator I will be seeking constitutional interpretation on how does this city run,” the senator said.
Senators Kipchumba Murkomen (Elgeyo Marakwet) and Mutula Kilonzo Junior (Makueni) are also defending Sonko in his legal team, raising questions about conflict of interest, given governors appear before the Senate for oversight.
“The Senate has a special mandate to oversight counties. As a consequence, Senator Murkomen and Mutula Kilonzo Jr have no right to appear in court on behalf of Governor Sonko, unless they want to create the crisis of reverse oversight. The conflict of interest is massive and irreconcilable,” lawyer Steve Ogolla said in a tweet.
Another advocate, Donald Kipkorir tweeted, “Article 77 of the Constitution bars State Officers from engaging in any other gainful employment. Lawyers who are Senators & MPs break this Constitutional provision with impunity whenever they practice law. EACC, DPP & LSK should enforce this Article. The constitution is Supreme.”