Kenya: Sonko Formally Charged With Corruption, Pleads Not Guilty to Over 10 Counts

Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko is led into the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission offices in Nairobi on December 6, 2019.
9 December 2019

Nairobi — Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko was formally charged Monday, denying more than 10 counts related to money laundering, receiving bribes and conflict of interest in a Sh357 million scandal.

Sonko pleaded "not guilty" to all the charges when he was arraigned before anti-corruption court magistrate Douglas Ogoti, in a packed court that was secured by anti-riot police officers.

He was represented by several lawyers led by Cecil Miller, who unsuccessfully applied for an anticipatory bail soon after the Governor was arrested in Voi in a dramatic scene captured on video on Thursday after the Director of Public Prosecutions Noordin Haji indicted him and 18 others.

Heavily armed anti-riot police officers were deployed around the court precincts following reports his supporters were planning to hold demonstrations, including the city centre to protest his arrest.

Sonko was escorted to court at 7 am in handcuffs, amid tight security.

Former County Secretary Peter Kariuki and former procurement head Patrick Mwangangi are among 13 other suspects including tender committee members and directors of firms awarded questionable contracts.

Haji cited the officials for conflict of interest having, "facilitated and/or benefitted from the irregular procurement and payments amounting to Sh357, 390,299 million."

Following his directive on Friday, Sonko was flown to Wilson Airport Friday afternoon following a dramatic arrest in Voi where EACC detectives caught up with him while he was reportedly on the run.

A video shared widely online showed the county chief 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.

Haji told journalists that he had enough evidence to warrant the prosecution of the county chief after reviewing a file handed to him by the EACC.

Sonko arrived at EACC headquarters in Nairobi in handcuffs and under heavy security amid reports of a possible outbreak of protests by his supporters.

He said, in a statement dispatched by his office, he was ready to defend himself in court while also urging his supporters to remain calm.

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