, NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 28 – Nairobi Mayor Geophrey Majiwa finally stepped aside late on Thursday, three days after he was charged in court over Sh283 million cemetery scandal.
A statement from the Local Government Ministry said: “the Mayor has agreed to step aside following a request by Deputy Prime Minister Musalia Mudavadi.”
The statement said the Minister had sought advice from the Attorney General Amos Wako who advised him accordingly that Mr Majiwa was indeed a public officer.
The Mayor had vowed not to leave office, claiming that he was not a public officer.
Attorney General Amos Wako maintained that: “Chapter six of the Constitution does not only apply to persons who are appointed to a public office, but also applies to persons elected into office e.g. President, Deputy President and a Member of Parliament.”
“Consequently, the Deputy Prime Minister has asked the Mayor to step aside and he has agreed to do so,” part of the statement sent by Kibisu Kabatesi, the director of Public Communication at the Local Government Ministry said.
Mr Mudavadi said he resorted to seek legal advise from the Attorney General after he received a letter from the Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission [KACC] asking him to take administrative action against the city mayor under Section 62(1) of the Anti-Corruption and Economic Crimes Act of 2003 which provides that: “A public officer who is charged with corruption or economic crimes shall be suspended at half pay with effect from the date of the charge.”
“Mudavadi in turn wrote to the AG for legal advice and clarity on the matter. The DPM stressed the urgency of constitutional interpretation,” the statement sent to newsrooms on Thursday said.
Mr Majiwa was arrested on Monday morning and charged in court on Tuesday where he denied corruptly receiving Sh283 million from the Nairobi City Council in the purchase of the cemetery land in the outskirts of the City.
The Mayor appeared before the anti corruption court after spending the night at Kilimani Police station and pleaded innocent to the corruption charge. He was released on a cash bail of Sh2.5 million or an alternative Sh6 million bond.
Mr Majiwa was charged together with former Deputy Town Clerk Geofrey Katsoleh for jointly conspiring to defraud the public of the money. Mr Katsoleh was however not in court and is now required to appear on November 9 to answer to the charge.
The Mayor’s lawyer Odhiambo Wakla accused the KACC of trying his client in the media. “Your honour my client’s rights have been infringed by the KACC. Yesterday (Monday) there was a lot of drama as my client was being arrested as he was being chased left right and centre by the media…it was a chaotic scene. My client is innocent until this court proves otherwise,” Mr Wakla protested to Principal Magistrate Lucy Nyambura.
He also accused the anti graft body for rushing to bring the criminal case instead of waiting for the conclusion of a constitutional application in the High Court in which he has sought to block his arrest over the matter.
“Why the rush to charge my client yet there is a pending application before the Constitutional Court where my client was apprehensive he might not get a fair trial?” the lawyer wondered.
Two other senior officers at City Hall were separately charged over the same scandal. Boniface Misera and Cephas Kamande are accused of conspiring to receive the Sh283 million jointly with others who have already appeared in court.
They denied the charges and were also released on a cash bail of Sh2.5 million. Both cases are due back in court on November 9.
On Monday the Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission (KACC) said it had credible evidence to sustain the case against the Mayor.
Mr Majiwa was picked up from his Nairobi residence on Monday morning and driven to the KACC headquarters for questioning as detectives finalised their investigation.
“We have credible evidence to charge His Worship the Mayor in court. His charge sheet is ready and he will be appearing in court tomorrow [Tuesday] morning to face two counts of corruption in relation to the cemetery scandal,” KACC Spokesman Nicholas Simani had told journalists.
Mr Majiwa became the 18th person to face charges over the scandal. Others include former Local Government Permanent Secretary Sammy Kirui, one time Town Clerk John Gakuo.