NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 16 – An application by Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko to stay an ongoing corruption case in which he is charged for misappropriating Sh357 million was rejected by the High Court on Thursday.
“I am not satisfied with the reason given for a stay,” Lady Justice Mumbi Ngugi stated.
Lawyers Cecil Miller and George Kithi had claimed investigations by the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) were biased and instituted to settle scores with the governor who in the period leading to his arraignment in court in December accused the anti-graft agency of witchhunt.
“Miller asked for stay of proceedings of the criminal trial. I have not heard why the order was not sought (earlier) before the respective court in the separate application pending hearing on March 25, 2020,” said the judge in reference to a similar petition the governor had filed in 2019, which was also rejected.
The lawyers had gone to court on January 16 to seek an express order to have the criminal proceedings pending at the anti-corruption magistrate court stayed on account of the manner in which the investigations were conducted.
Sonko had accused the EACC of breaching his constitutional rights further alleging that EACC was part of a scheme to hound him out of office.
His lawyers had also asked the court to refer the matter to Chief Justice David Maraga for the appointment of a three-judge bench to consider the application.
Justice Ngugi while declining to grant an express stay order as prayed, told the lawyers that their case must be argued substantively and equally give the State time to file a reply.
In a previous petition scheduled for hearing on March 25, Governor Sonko applied to have three judges to recuse themselves from hearing his graft cases citing prejudice.
State counsel had told the judge the fresh bid to stall the criminal proceedings against the governor was akin to, “short-circuiting the determination of the pending petition.”
They argued that Sonko and his lawyers were attempting to seek a piecemeal order within the same petition.
The State told the judge that the prayer for stay, which was under a certificate of urgency, was an attempt to, “steal the match and ambush the Director of Public Prosecution.”
The prosecution argued the fresh bid was “procedural” and given that a similar petition was pending before another court awaiting hearing in March.
The judge gave the DPP 7 days to file a reply before parties return to court on February 3 for a hearing on the application for a three-judge bench.
Miller and Kithi were also been allowed to amend their petition in light of the ruling that rejected an outright stay of the criminal case.