Senators criticised for representing county chief

Tuesday, December 10th, 2019 00:00 |
Council of Governors chair Wycliffe Oparanya. Photo/PD/FILE

Eric Wainaina and Hillary Mageka

The decision by Senate Majority Leader Senator Kipchumba and his Minority Whip Senator Mutula Kilonzo to represent Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko in a corruption case has raised questions about the ability of the Senate to oversight governors.

Sonko and his co-accused were yesterday charged with conspiracy to commit corruption, failure to comply with procurement laws, conflict of interest, abuse of office and unlawful acquisition of public property.

The two senators, who sit in the Justice, Legal Affairs and Human Rights Committee, have been accused of conflict of interest for representing a governor whose conduct they are mandated to check.

In an interview with People Daily yesterday, Nairobi Senator Johnson Sakaja said the senators’ appearance in court was a serious impediment in the fight against corruption.

“Assuming the Nairobi governor was to be impeached by the County Assembly, the motion will be brought to our House. Do you expect those senators to be impartial?” he asked.

Lawyer Steve Ogolla also faulted the senators. “The conflict of interest is massive and irreconcilable,” Ogolla wrote on Twitter.

It was also pointed out that Murkommen and Kilonzo Jr could find themselves in a conflicted situation should  Sonko’s matter be brought before Senate.

Lawyer Bob Mkangi says while acting as lawyers is a call of duty to ensure each Kenyan has fair representation in court, the senators’ appearance could have political implications.

Narok Senator Ledama Ole Kina also objected to the decision by his two colleagues.

Kenya Medical Practitioners Pharmacists & Dentists’ Union secretary general Ouma Oluga said the senators’ decision was ill-advised.

“Senators are responsible for holding governors accountable to citizens and devolution. They are today defending the governor as professional lawyers. How then can Senators be against dualism especially for doctors?” said Oluga.

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