Resolution of Sonko, Elachi row left to courts

Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko and Assembly Speaker Beatrice Elachi. They are warring over a supplementary budget bill. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Legal experts have said that a stalemate between Governor Mike Sonko and Speaker Beatrice Elachi over a supplementary budget bill, which allocated Nairobi Metropolitan Services (NMS) Sh15 billion for transferred functions, can only be resolved by the courts.

As provided for in law, seven days in which the governor was supposed to sign the bill lapsed yesterday, with Sonko holding his ground after his memorandum was rejected by Ms Elachi.

Mr Sonko had accused the assembly of overstepping its mandate by allocating funds to functions that were not part of the Deed of Transfer he signed with the national government.

Speaker Elachi, however, re-submitted the original bill to Mr Sonko on April 17 after rejecting his memorandum.

She said Friday that the original bill has now taken effect after the expiry of the seven days, unless a person goes to court to challenge it.

“It is done. The law gives only seven days for the governor to sign it or it becomes a law and as such, the original bill has now taken effect,” said Ms Elachi adding that the NMS, as an administrative arm of the county government, needs money to function.

However, Governor Sonko insists that his memorandum, which he sent to the assembly last week, has prevailed and will now be applicable; thus, not the original bill takes precedence.

“The memorandum remained binding as it was properly before the assembly and with no communication from the members within the seven days, the memorandum is now law,” said Mr Sonko’s spokesperson Ben Mulwa.


A standoff over the bill has persisted since it was approved on April 2 by the Nairobi County Assembly.

Constitutional lawyer Nzamba Kitonga supported Ms Elachi’s stand, saying that if the bill was not subjected to the two-thirds majority rule, then only the court can resolve the stalemate.

“If there were matters concerning the Deed of Transfer then that will have to be interpreted by the court. I think the speaker would be within her right to have the court challenge the constitutionality of the bill,” he said.

Lawyer Bob Mkangi similarly noted that when a governor or a president sends back a bill – whether the issues raised are constitutional or not, unless it is something blatant – then it is for another independent body to adjudicate and determine whether that is so or not, and not for an interested party.

Lawyer Peter Wanyama, on the other hand, argued that since the assembly did not overrule the governor’s memorandum through the two-thirds majority, then the memorandum carries the day even if it raises constitutional issues.

“The county assembly can only overrule the governor with the two-thirds majority. A ruling of the speaker cannot overturn the law,” said Mr Wanyama.

Mr Mkangi said that the bill becomes law after the expiry of the seven days, but warns someone can go to court to challenge it, as he called for political settlement of the matter.