Kananu edges closer to city top seat as LSK moves to court

Tuesday, January 19th, 2021 00:00 |
Nairobi deputy Governor Anne Kananu Photo/PD/David Ndolo

Alvin Mwangi and Nancy Gitonga

Anne Kananu Mwenda yesterday edged closer to becoming the next Nairobi governor after the acting county boss Benson Mutura relinquished his position.

Mutura, who has been the acting governor since the impeachment of Mike Sonko last month, handed over the instruments of power to Kananu only three days after she was sworn in as deputy governor, amid behind-the-scenes manoeuvres to fast-track her swearing-in as the substantive governor as early as tomorrow.

But in a move calculated to thwart Kananu’s ascendancy to the governor’s office, the Law Society of Kenya (LSK) swiftly moved to court and obtained orders stopping her from being sworn in as the governor.

Justice Antony Mrima issued the conservatory orders restraining the State from arranging Kananu’s swearing-in as Nairobi governor, pending the hearing and determination of the case.

“That pending the hearing and determination of this application inter-parties, a temporary injunction is hereby issued restraining the respondents (Nairobi City County Assembly, Speaker and the deputy governor, Attorney General and the Government Printer), their agents and or servants from swearing in Kananu as the Governor of Nairobi,” ordered the judge.

LSK, through lawyer Peter Wanyama, sought the orders under a certificate of urgency, saying the hurried vetting, approval by the Nairobi County Assembly and the swearing-in of Kananu as deputy governor in quick succession on Friday, was without regard to the Constitution and is a calculated political move to avoid a by-election in Nairobi.

Yesterday, Kananu confirmed that a committee on assumption of office had been formed with sources revealing that it was tasked with overseeing the swearing-in exercise tentatively set for tomorrow, in a well-calculated effort to block the impending by-election in the city.

“The committee on assumption of office is already in place and will be advising the next course of action,” Kananu said while receiving the instruments of power from Mutura in a ceremony attended by Members of County Assembly, county executive members and other top officials at City Hall.

Mutura, the county Speaker, said he was vacating the seat following Kananu’s swearing-in as deputy governor last week, a development, he said, affected his continued stay in office.

First task

He explained that his assumption to office on December 21, 2020, was based on the fact that there was no substantive deputy governor at the time to step in following Sonko’s impeachment.

“Accordingly, I now relinquish my acting as the Governor of Nairobi County and resume my duty as the Speaker of Nairobi County Assembly and allow Her Excellency Anne Kananu Mwenda to assume the office of the County Governor in a substantive manner,” said Mutura.

“I assumed this office in an acting capacity in accordance to the law but during my acting period, several developments have occurred which have directly affected my continued holding of the position.

I assure the incoming governor of our full support as the county assembly,” he added. 

On her part, Kananu pledged to steer clear of politics and concentrate on service delivery, working closely with the county assembly and Nairobi Metropolitan Services (NMS) Director General Maj-Gen  Mohammed Badi and his team.

“I am not a politician, and I will not start being one. I’m focused on bringing a new spirit of cooperation, collaboration, partnership and mutual respect with all organs of government. Nairobi is now back on course,” she said.

Her first task in office, she said, will be to launch a public engagement to collect views on the state of service delivery in the city and how to improve it in partnership with the assembly.

“I once again affirm that I will lead from the front in heeding the call of the President to radically improve provision of services in the city.

We are alive to the needs of the people and such it is critical that the early successes seen over the last few months are replicated across the city in all sectors,” she added.

The Speaker assured Kananu of maximum support to make Nairobi a better city.

“As a county assembly we shall be available to provide any legislative support that may be required.

We hope to continue working closely including with the Nairobi Metropolitan Service for the benefit of Nairobians,” he said.

President Uhuru Kenyatta, in an interview aired by several vernacular radio stations, waded into the Nairobi county politics, accusing Sonko of failing to deliver services to Nairobi residents.

The President stated that he was the one who engineered Sonko’s removal to pave the way for the Nairobi Metropolitan Service (NMS).

Uhuru went on to thank NMS Director- General Badi for a job well done.

“I’m the one who helped him get elected, but we fell out because he was always fighting people.

You can now see what our new person Badi has done. There has been a significant change in service delivery,” said Uhuru.

“Nairobi is an example of how things can change. NMS is transforming the face of the city unlike it was previously”.

However, in his characteristic dramatic style, Sonko responded to the President by defending his record, describing himself as a competent governor who had kicked out cartels from the city.

Acts of illegalities

“Within a few days after assuming office, I cracked down on the cartels that had held the city hostage for decades, sealed all the looting avenues by digitising revenue collection, and Nairobians began to enjoy services once again without having to offer or pay a bribe,’ said Sonko in a statement.

Sonko added that during his term, he managed to construct three fire-stations in Waithaka, Kangundo road and Ruaraka.

And while stopping, albeit temporarily, Kananu’s swearing-in as governor, Justice Mrima directed LSK to serve all the parties with their petition before the hearing of the case on January 28.

LSK lawyer argued that the events of last Friday undermined the right of the people of Nairobi to elect a governor and deputy governor of their choice.

He added that the acts also set a dangerous precedent in the application of the rule of law. 

“That this swearing-in is problematic, unconstitutional and a brazen attempt to undermine the process of a by-election as anticipated in Article 182(5) of the Constitution of Kenya,” LSK argued.

LSK expressed fears that the respondents are likely to proceed to commit further acts of illegalities by swearing in Kananu as the Governor of Nairobi, who will in turn nominate yet another person for appointment as deputy governor.

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