Kenya: The Fall of Nairobi 'Super' MCA, David Mberia

Karen Ward MCA David Njilithia Mberia is not your ordinary local representative.

He represents arguably the most affluent area in Nairobi.

Only Muthaiga, Gigiri and Runda in Karura Ward as well as Kitisuru in Kitisuru Ward come close.

Those who reside in his ward include the who-is-who in the country, with the affluent residential suburb being home to the wealthy in Kenya, including top politicians.

Karen hosts Deputy President William Ruto - both his private and official residences, former Prime Minister Raila Odinga and former Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka, among others. It is also home to senior lawyers, business magnates and expatriates. Karen is their home.

If the law made it compulsory for individuals to vote in their places of residence, then Mberia would have the above-mentioned queuing to vote for or against him.

However, the former Nairobi County Assembly Minority Leader's seat is now on the brink of being declared vacant after a court declined to suspend an order barring him from office after he was in February this year found guilty in a Sh1.7 million corruption case.

An attempt in March to have the High Court set aside orders of the trial court, which barred him from holding public office, failed when the court directed that the judgment be served upon Nairobi County Assembly Speaker Benson Mutura.

Mberia wanted a stay the execution of the sentence delivered by a lower court, pending the hearing of his appeal.

A further blow to his bid to stay in office was delivered last month when Justice Mumbi Ngugi ruled that the former Minority Leader had not placed anything before the court to entitle him to get the stay orders he wanted.

Dismissed the application

In her ruling, Justice Ngugi dismissed the application, saying it is not for the court to determine whether or not the Speaker will declare the seat vacant as a result of his conviction.

The court further ruled that it had not been shown a basis for staying the execution of a lawful judgment and sentence imposed against him by a court of competent jurisdiction under the Bribery Act.

"What this court can do is put in place administrative directions that enable the applicant to expeditiously prosecute his appeal and should it be successful, protect his entitlement to hold the public office that he seeks to protect," read the judgment in part.

For his part, Speaker Mutura acknowledged having received a letter communicating Mberia's conviction but said his hands were tied as he does not know how to act in such a case.

"Yes, I have already received a letter communicating the conviction, but the issue of declaring the position vacant does not lie with me. I do not have the powers. It is the IEBC that has the mandate and I can only communicate the same to the House," said Mr Mutura.

Woes for one of the longest-serving county legislators in Nairobi, having served as a councillor in the defunct Nairobi County Council, began in April last year, when he was arrested together with Mathare North Ward MCA Jared Okode for conspiring to commit corruption.

The two, together with Woodley/Kenyatta Golf Course MCA Mwangi Njihia, as members of the Nairobi County Assembly committee on Culture and Social Services, were arrested for allegedly contriving to commit an offence of corruption by receiving a bribe of over Sh1 million to influence the outcome of an inquiry that was to be carried out by the committee.

Resolve a land dispute

The three were to get money from Mr Samuel Maina Kiragu, one of the owners of Kiragu Waichahi Private School, to resolve a land dispute.

They were charged that on diverse dates between April 4 and April 8, 2019, they demanded and received a Sh1.7 million bribe from Mr Kiragu.

Whereas his counterparts survived with the Senior Principal Magistrate Thomas Nzioki ruling that the prosecution did not establish cases against the two, Mberia was not as lucky.

The veteran ward rep, who once served as a Majority Chief Whip, was in February found guilty of demanding and receiving a Sh1.7 million bribe from Mr Kiragu.

He was charged with three counts -- asking for a Sh1 million bribe, asking for a Sh500,000 bribe and receiving treated Sh200,000.

Upon conviction, he was barred from holding public office and fined Sh700,000 or serve a three-year jail term for the offence.

He was to serve a year in prison for each of the three counts if he defaulted in paying the total fine by the court.

While he succeeded to raise the Sh700,000 fine, escaping the three-year jail term, the second-term MCA was not so lucky in stopping the court from barring him from office.

Mberia, having transitioned from a councillor to a ward representative with the advent of devolved governments in 2013, was elected as Majority Whip of Nairobi County Assembly.

He served in the position until the end of the first assembly. However, in the second assembly, ODM lost its majority position in the assembly.

Mberia was not lucky to bag any leadership position at the assembly until November 2019 when he replaced Kileleshwa MCA Elias Otieno as the Minority Leader.

He would, however, last in the position for less than a year before being replaced by Embakasi MCA Michael Ogada in August last year.

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