NAIROBI, Kenya Feb 26 – A case has been filed in court challenging Governor Mike Sonko’s decision to cede key functions of Nairobi County Government to the national government.
The case was filed Wednesday, by Robin Karani, who identifies himself as a voter, just a day after Sonko signed a controversial deal at State House, surrendering Health, Transport, Public Works and Planning, in what has sparked mixed reactions from Kenyans. Legal experts have warned the move is likely to cause a constitutional crisis in the city county management.
The applicant in the suit filed at the Milimani Law Courts argues that Sonko is not allowed under the Constitution to interfere and transfer Nairobi county functions.
He said in his suit papers that the move is “arbitrary and unconstitutional”, and risks denying Nairobians opportunity to participate as provided for by the law.
The application seeks a conservatory order to halt the decision pending the determination of his petition. The application will be placed before the constitutional court for directions. No stay orders were issued, with a hearing now set for March 11.
A Statement from State House, Nairobi dispatched to newsrooms on the new arrangement immediately sparked debate among legal scholars who questioned the move by the controversial Governor going to bed with the National Government, at a time of raging concerns that devolution is under a threat.
“In a landmark agreement signed at State House today (Tuesday), Governor Mike Mbuvi Sonko and Devolution Cabinet Secretary Eugene Wamalwa in concurrence with H.E President Uhuru Kenyatta, signed an agreement, handing over functions of the Nairobi County Government to the National Government, pursuant to Article 187 of the Constitution,” the statement by State House Spokeswoman Kanze Dena said.
But this move has sparked mixed reactions, including from lawyers.
“Did Governor Sonko had the benefit of a legal COUNSEL in SURRENDERING county government number 47 to the central government under Article 187? Now that he has ABDICATED formally, when will the people of Nairobi elect a governor of their choice?,” lawyer Ahmednassir Abdulahi posed.
And for Makueni Senator Mutula Kilonzo Junior, “the County Government of NAIROBI is as good as dissolved ! “
Mutula Junior is particularly worried, of the following , ” Will the Assembly oversight the national executive? I doubt ! Will the functions revert ? I doubt . Will the Assembly budget for the assigned functions? Unlikely ! Will we include them in County revenue allocation? Serious Constitutional issues.”
So weighty is this matter, that Senator Kipchumba Murkomen, also a lawyer, sought more time to digest it.
“The matter of transfer of functions from Nairobi County to National Government is such a weighty matter that requires deep deflection. I will be making a comprehensive statement in the Senate tomorrow and this matter will occupy most of our debating time tomorrow,” Murkomen, who is also the Majority Leader in the Senate tweeted late Tuesday.
State House said the take-over was in line with Article 187 of the Constitution.
The signing of the agreement was witnessed by the Speaker of the Senate, Kenneth Lusaka and Attorney General Paul Kihara, she added, “This will ensure Nairobi residents receive services efficiently.”
Sonko is out on bond after denying corruption charges and is barred from accessing office, even though he makes key decisions, including reshuffling his ministries.