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Sonko gets reprieve after court suspends impeachment motion

The planned impeachment motion against Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko could run into headwinds following the temporary orders by the court suspending its debate.

This comes after Employment and Labour Relations Court judge Nzioki Makau issued conservatory orders suspending debate on the impeachment motion slated for Thursday.

“It is hereby ordered that the application be certified urgent and that conservatory orders be granted in terms of prayer 3 pending hearing of the motion on December 3, 2020,” read the order delivered virtually.

Justice Makau said the respondents in the petition, including Nairobi County Assembly Speaker Benson Mutura and Clerk Edward Gichana, be served immediately.

The new development comes after the governor, through his lawyer Harrison Kinyanjui, went to court on Monday, on a certificate of urgency, seeking to stop the ouster motion until an earlier petition filed in February, pending before the court, is heard and determined.

Last week, Mr Kinyanjui accused the Speaker of being in contempt of court by admitting a fresh impeachment motion against his client, saying proceedings of a February petition on a similar motion by Minority Whip Peter Imwatok is still live in court.

Mr Kinyanjui pointed out that Justice Byram Onganya on October 23 also dismissed a preliminary objection to the petition, Petition No.35 of 2020, paving way for the determination of the said petition.

“The Petition is pending determination and constitutes a live proceeding within Nairobi County Assembly Standing Order 49(3)(c) ….and you are fully aware that the matter is scheduled before the court on December 3, 2020. Indisputably, these are live proceedings,” said Mr Kinyanjui.

Nevertheless, Mr Mutura holds the ground that the earlier motion by Mr Imwatok was withdrawn based on the assembly’s Standing Order 49(3) after it failed to meet set guidelines.

“Accordingly, now that Imwatok failed to meet the timelines prescribed, I hereby clarify that the motion by the member, on the removal of the governor from office, stands withdrawn in accordance with Standing Order 49(3),” said Mr Mutura.

But Mr Kinyanjui differed with Mr Mutura’s interpretation saying that it’s only Mr Imwatok who can withdraw his February impeachment motion based on Standing Order 55(2) which says that only the member who gave the notice who can withdraw it.

“Standing Order 55(2) dictates that a special motion can be withdrawn except with leave of the assembly. You therefore have no unilateral power to withdraw the motion dated February 20, 2020 mounted by Mr Imwatok,” said Mr Kinyanjui.