Court allows vetting of city deputy governor nominee Ann Mwenda

Anne Mwenda

Ms Anne Mwenda, the Nairobi deputy governor nominee in January, 2020.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

The race to succeed dethroned Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko has taken a fresh twist after a Nairobi court allowed withdrawal of a petition challenging the vetting of deputy governor nominee Anne Mwenda.

This paves way for the vetting of Ms Mwenda by Nairobi County Assembly, an exercise that is set for next week, putting paid to any attempts by Mr Sonko to block the clearance.

Ms Mwenda was cleared by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) in February last year after her nomination in January but her vetting was stopped after a Nairobi voter Peter Agoro went to court.

Yesterday, High Court Judge Justice Hedwig Ong'udi allowed the petitioner to withdraw the case which was questioning the legal capacity of Mr Sonko to nominate a deputy when he had been barred from accessing office due to alleged corruption.

This is after Mr Agoro on Monday expressed intention to withdraw the petition and end a month-long battle.

Public interest

In her ruling, the judge said the petitioner pursuing the case would be an “academic exercise” since Mr Sonko is no longer in office following his impeachment last month.

“There is no public interest to be suffered. The issues raised in the petition were legal and can be raised anytime by anybody. The petitioner filed the petition in person and was not representing anybody's interest,” said the judge. But one not to go down alone, the impeached governor dragged the name of the first family in his woes, alleging how Ms Christina Pratt, President Uhuru Kenyatta’s elder sister, attempted to impose on him Ms Jane Weru as deputy governor.

In a sworn affidavit by his lawyer Harrison Kinyanjui, Mr Sonko claimed that Ms Pratt contacted him prior to his impeachment seeking his favour of appointing Ms Weru as his deputy.

To prove his accusations, Mr Kinyanjui said his client would rely on a recording and transcript of the said conversation.

“Ms Weru is the person recommended by Christine Pratt Kenyatta to Mr Sonko to assume the role and capacity of the Nairobi county governor immediately prior to unlawful and sham impeachment of the cross petitioner by reason of which she is a relevant party,” read in part the affidavit.

In the same application, under certificate of urgency, Mr Sonko had asked the court to issue conservatory orders against the vetting of Ms Mwenda as well as recent Cabinet changes by acting governor Benson Mutura.

Unlawful vetting

He argued that he had revoked Ms Mwenda’s nomination as deputy governor on December 7, 2020, and lifting the order would pave way for unlawful vetting of the Nairobi County disaster management chief officer.

He went ahead to point out that on February 17, 2020, Lady Justice Mumbi Ngugi also stopped the vetting and approval of Ms Mwenda as his deputy.

“Unless restrained, the assembly is now threatening to unlawfully vet and impose Ms Mwenda as Nairobi deputy governor, hence the necessity of the conservatory orders sought,” he said in the application.

However, the judge dismissed a request by Mr Kinyanjui to suspend the ruling on grounds that there was an urgent fresh cross-petition related to the same issue.

The judge found the said cross-petition was non-existent as it had not been paid for.

Justice Ong’udi also thwarted an attempt by an intended co-petitioner, Paul Musyimi Ndore, who wanted to bar the withdrawal by being allowed to join the case and continue with its litigation. Justice Ong’undi said having allowed the petitioner to withdraw the case, all other applications in the case had fallen.

comulo@ke.nationmedia.com jwangui@ke.nationmedia.com

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