From prison to governor to prison? Sonko’s odd script

Friday, February 5th, 2021 00:00 |
Former Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko with Elgeyo Marakwet Senator Kipchumba Murkomen at Kahawa Law Courts, yesterday. Photo/COURTESY

As far as loose tongues go, Mike Sonko is in a class of his own. And the man who has been the chief executive of Kenya’s capital and East Africa’s economic hub for three years, leaks secrets (real or imagined) like a sieve.

Sonko is also one of the most unconventional of politicians in Kenya, with his modus operandi ranging from the comical to the outright criminal.

Now, all that is coming back to haunt him with police sources indicating they have lined up several cases that have been pulled from his closet and reignited.

The man has a colourful past, complete with a prison term that he somehow managed to cut short and shadowy business operations that have over the years spawned rumours about the source of his wealth.

Interestingly, it is this combination of characteristics that appears to have stood Sonko in good stead in politics, making him one of the most successful populist politicians of our times.

Thanks to an eclectic mix of notoriety and charity, he quickly rose from MP to senator to governor in less than seven years.

Sonko talked, generously gave, and used his guile and guts as he punched his way to the top. 

From punching and kicking walls, to putting the President’s call on loudspeaker to save structures in the city from demolition, Sonko endeared himself to many of Nairobi’s downtrodden who saw in him a saviour of sorts.

His searing tongue, social media bullying and penchant to divulge confidential information – often supported by tapes or mobile phone messages – have won the former city governor as many friends as foes.

And now this behaviour, which had served him well in the past, appears to have come back to haunt him. All indications are that the man is on a free fall.

Sonko’s penchant to record his conversations has not helped him either, as it has scared away people who may have been of help at his hour of need.

Dirty past

“Sonko is a victim of his own actions. He can’t blame anybody. It is his controversial dirty past that is returning to haunt him,” says Prof Macharia Munene of USIU-Africa.

Another political analyst, Dr Oscar Otele, says Sonko’s political rise was too fast and shocking to himself.

“I do not think he expected to be where he reached in politics. He seems to have found himself in utter shock dining and wining with the powers that be.

Without proper grooming and education, Sonko was in a state of confusion that brought him down,” says Dr Otele.

His latest problems started with the takeover of most of his powers by the Nairobi Metropolitan Services, led by General Mohamed Badi, early last year.

With his troubles swelling every second, Sonko’s financial muscle began fizzling out. Badi has since absorbed his amorphous outfit, Sonko Recue Team, which relied on his handouts.

His refusal to acknowledge he had been outwitted and outwrestled by President Uhuru Kenyatta, and his insistence on fighting Badi, invited the final nail on his political coffin: his impeachment in December last year.

Having lost the governorship, Sonko became even more reckless and outrageous in his utterances and political choices.

And now he seems to have bitten more than he can chew, as he stares at the possibility of Kamiti Maximum Security Prison being his next abode for the next 30 days.

When he recently claimed during Deputy President William Ruto’s political function that he and Interior Principal Secretary Karanja Kibicho were involved in acts of arson and violence after the 2017 election, to him, it was routine talk.

Then he followed it up quickly with some unsavoury language and claims about the President.

On Monday, with his usual bravado, Sonko appeared at the Directorate of Criminal Investigations to ostensibly record a statement about his 2017 election violence claims.

Days before his appearance at the DCI, Sonko had told the whole world how he was armed with shocking evidence about the 2017 election violence and rigging that could bring down the Jubilee government and Kibicho.

Kenyans animatedly waited for Sonko’s dossier. But he instead came out with terrorism charges hanging over his head and was forced to spend the night in police cells.

After spending a night on the cold floors of Muthaiga police station, Sonko was paraded before a Kiambu magistrate where he faced 10 charges that comprised robbery with violence, assault and destruction of property. 

He was remanded for two days to enable the court to decide on his bond application. The drama had just begun as the next day, Wednesday, Sonko was once again to find himself in a major surprise.

After attending a court session at Milimani where he had applied to replace his lawyer George Kithi with John Khaminwa in a Sh10 million graft case, the flamboyant politician was hauled into police cars and driven to Kahawa West Law Court where he found terror-related charges awaiting him.

Flamboyant politician

Anti-Terrorism Police Unit Chief Inspector Newton Thimangu informed the court Sonko was being investigated for allegedly arming a militia group. Police sought the court’s permission to detain him at Kamiti for 30 days to complete investigations.

He will know his fate on the matter on February 9.When the case came up yesterday, Chief Magistrate Diana Kavedza said making a ruling on the matter before his case on assault is determined would cause confusion.

In concurrence with one of Sonko’s lawyer Wilfred Nyamu, Ms Kavdza ruled:

“I do not feel the accused has had enough time to prepare. There will be confusion if this case proceeds before the Kiambu court makes a ruling.”

Earlier yesterday, the Kiambu court had deferred his bail application to February 9.

In a communication to the parties, Kiambu Chief Magistrate Stella Atambo said the ruling whether to release Sonko on bond will now be delivered on Tuesday next week, as it was not ready.

The governor is also expected to return to court today for a ruling on whether he would be allowed to change his lawyer in the graft case.

Sonko has denied charges of forcible entry into a parcel of land in Buruburu and assaulting nine people causing them bodily harm. The prosecution argued that he should be denied bail.

John Khaminwa, Assa Nyakundi, Danstan Omari and Evans Ondieki are representing the former governor.

In an affidavit sworn by Chief Inspector Geoffrey Ndatho, the court heard that Sonko left his office at City Hall while he was the Governor of Nairobi and proceeded to Buruburu Phase Four while accompanied by youths, who under his direction caused the commission of the offences.

Ndatho said Sonko is being investigated for other criminal offences within the country and that the accused is in contact with the residents of Nairobi and can easily interfere with witnesses.

From prison to governor to prison? That’s one unlikely script that only Mike Mbuvi Sonko can write.

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