Court set to rule on cases against Mike Sonko’s Mombasa Governor bid today

Mike Sonko

Former Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko addresses journalists at Whitesands Beach Resort in Mombasa. Mr Sonko shifted his  base to the coastal city.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group 

The High Court in Mombasa will today deliver a ruling that could either lessen or aggravate Mr Mike Sonko’s troubles in his quest to vie for the Mombasa governor seat.

This even as the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) chairman Wafula Chebukati yesterday declared that impeached leaders, such as Mr Sonko who was ousted in Nairobi, and Mr Ferdinand Waititu who was removed in Kiambu, cannot be cleared to vie.

“On the issue of leadership and integrity, Article 75 of the Constitution is very clear. For those individuals found wanting as relates to Chapter Six, and found by any institution by law to fall short of Chapter Six, by way of impeachment, the commission’s position is that they will not be cleared to participate in the elections,” Mr Chebukati said yesterday at Bomas of Kenya during a meeting with presidential aspirants.

Following his impeachment in December 2020, Mr Sonko moved to the High Court, which dismissed his argument that his ouster was illegal. The Court of Appeal subsequently upheld the High Court’s verdict. In March this year, Mr Sonko moved to the Supreme Court, seeking permission to challenge the decision by the Court of Appeal.

However, a check at the apex court yesterday showed that he is yet to file the substantive appeal against the judgment.

Nairobi-based lawyer Elias Mutuma said although Mr Sonko moved to the Supreme Court, he will not be cleared by the electoral commission because the impeachment has not been overturned.

He said the existence of an appeal against the impeachment cannot save Mr Sonko’s aspirations.

“Until that impeachment is overturned by court, he cannot vie. Impeachment is a political process not a judicial process. Judicial intervention only comes in to overturn the political process,” said Mr Mutuma.

Meanwhile, one of the petitioners in a case challenging Mr Sonko’s suitability to vie in Mombasa has sought to withdraw the suit, but his co-petitioner wants the case to proceed.

This is one of the three constitutional petitions filed in the courts in Mombasa and Eldoret seeking to block Mr Sonko from running for office.

At the High Court in Mombasa, two petitions are being heard before Justice John Mativo. The petition in Eldoret, which was before Justice Reuben Nyakundi, has been referred to Chief Justice Martha Koome for directions, which might include an order to have it consolidated with other similar petitions.

Mr Ndoro Kayuga and Mr George Odhiambo filed the first petition against Mr Sonko in Mombasa seeking a declaration that the former governor, having been impeached in Nairobi, is disqualified from holding any other state office.

According to the petitioners, Mr Sonko, any governor or person who has been dismissed or removed from office by impeachment but has declared interest or has been nominated to be elected in any state office, has violated the constitution.

Mr Sonko, who is represented by lawyers led by Gikandi Ngibuni and Jared Magolo, has since filed a preliminary objection challenging the jurisdiction of the court to hear the case.

The petitioners also want a declaration that any county government or any other person who has been removed from office through impeachment or disciplinary procedures is disqualified from holding or being employed in a state office.

However, Mr Kayuga has filed an application seeking to withdraw the petition, arguing Mr Sonko’s removal as governor of Nairobi was more political than legal.

He argues that though Mr Sonko’s impeachment was upheld by both the High Court and the Court of Appeal, there is a pending appeal at the Supreme Court, thus the petition is premature.

Through lawyer Willis Oluga, his co-petitioner, Mr Odhiambo, is opposed to the application for the withdrawal of the case.

“The first petitioner (Mr Kayuga) is at liberty to exit the petition but should not go with the affidavit. However, if the affidavit is withdrawn, we will make the same averments as those of the first petitioner,” Mr Oluga argued. Justice Mativo is expected to rule on the application today.

In the second petition, Haki Yetu, Kituo Cha Sheria and Transparency International also want a declaration that Mr Sonko is disqualified from holding any other state office.

The organisations argue that the constitution provides that the authority assigned to a state officer is that of public trust and must be exercised in a manner that demonstrates respect for the people, brings honour to the nation and dignity to the office and promotes public confidence in the integrity of the office.

They further argue that despite being disqualified by Article 75 (3) of the Constitution from holding any other state office, Mr Sonko has expressed his intention to contest and vie for governor of Mombasa and has been nominated by Wiper party.

“IEBC is likely to approve and clear Mr Sonko to run for the position of governor Mombasa since he has already been nominated by Wiper party and his name submitted to IEBC in further perpetration of constitutional violations and a real threat to the petitioners’ constitutional rights,” part of their petition states.

The petitioners, who argue that it is not true that it is only a final conviction that can bar a contestant from occupying public office, cited a case in which Mr Sonko has been charged with corruption at the Milimani courts where a trial court barred him from accessing his office pending hearing and determination of the case.

In the Eldoret petition, Mr Silvester Kipkemoi argues that Mr Sonko and Mr Waititu should not be allowed to vie. Mr Sonko, Wiper party, and IEBC are respondents in the two petitions filed in Mombasa.

In the Eldoret petition, the Attorney-General, IEBC and the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission are respondents while Mr Sonko, Mr Waititu, Kenya Human Rights Commission and the Katiba Institute have been named as interested parties.

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