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Sonko to spend weekend in police cell ahead of Monday charges

Sonko is seen handcuffed inside an EACC vehicle shortly after a police helicopter that flew him to Nairobi landed at Wilson Airport/ COURTESY

NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 6 – Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko will not spend the night in police custody until Monday, after the High Court declined to grant him anticipatory bail following an application by his lawyers.

Sonko’s lawyers filed the application as soon as they learned of his arrest in Voi, where he engaged police officers in a scuffle, but he was eventually handcuffed and flown to Nairobi.

His arrest followed an order by the Director of Public Prosecutions Noordin Haji, who authorised the Ethics and Anti Corruption Commission (EACC) to charge him alongside City Hall Procurement and finance officials over Sh357.4 million corruption scandals.

His lawyers had hoped to secure his release on bail pending his arraignment, but the judge declined, instead deferring his ruling to Monday when the EACC will have responded on the application.

A video shared widely online showed the county chief who is due to be arraigned in court on graft related charges resisting arrest following police officers to handcuff him before forcing him into a police helicopter at the Ikanga airstrip in Taita Taveta.

EACC confirmed Sonko’s attempted escape despite the first-time Governor refuting claims that he resisted arrest in a statement shared by his office Friday afternoon.

“EACC confirms that Nairobi City County Governor Mike Sonko Mbuvi has been arrested while escaping arrest at a roadblock in Voi and is being transferred to Nairobi to face charges of corruption and economic crime,” the anti-graft agency tweeted.

DPP Haji placed Sonko at the centre of a scandal involving embezzlement of public funds totalling 357.4 million.

Sonko and eight other City Hall officials are accused of conflict of interest having, “facilitated and/or benefitted from the irregular procurement and payments amounting to Sh357, 390,299 million.”

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Haji on Friday told journalists that he had sufficient evidence to warrant the prosecution of the county chief after reviewing a file handed to him by the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission.

Sonko arrived at EACC headquarters in Nairobi in handcuffs and under heavy security and quickly whisked inside the establishment.

The DPP in his earlier statement cautioned Sonko’s supporters against causing chaos saying this will not be tolerated.

In November anti-riot police teargassed hundreds of Sonko supporters who were marching to the EACC headquarters where he was being questioned.

DPP said the actions of Sonko’s supporters frustrated investigators during the probe.

“Any attempts to instigate social unrest and incite the public will be countered with whole of government response. Members of the public are advised not to allow themselves to be used as human shields in the defence of these officials charged. Any person who engages in such behaviour will be dealt by whole of Government and held individually liable,” he said.

Through a statement before arriving at EACC, Sonko said that he was ready to defend himself in court while also urging his supporters to remain calm.

“I call upon my supporters and Nairobi residents in particular to be calm as I deal with this temporary insubordination, I assure everyone that I shall not be intimidated and wouldn’t be moved an inch by political traps,” Sonko stated.

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