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Crisis at City Hall, possible scenarios after Mike Sonko's arrest

Why Nairobi voters could soon go back to the ballot

Governor Mike Sonko (courtesy Governor's press)

A decision by Director of Public Prosecutions Noordin Haji ordering the immediate arrest and prosecution of Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko effectively set in motion an inevitable crisis of leadership at City Hall.

In a famous ruling on July 24, 2019, High Court judge Justice Mumbi Ngugi ruled that elected executives cannot continue to attend office when facing corruption related charges.

As per the set legal precedence, Sonko will have to step aside from his office and case exercising his powers as Nairobi Governor as soon as he pleads to the corruption-related charged presented against him by the DPP.

Justice Ngugi's ruling has already seen Kiambu Governor Ferdinand Waititu and his Samburu counterpart Moses Lenolkulal barred from going back to office while battling their cases.


The only unique circumstance in Sonko's case is that he does not have a Deputy Governor who would take over some of his duties as has been the case in Samburu and Kiambu.

Here are the possible scenarios:

Sonko appoints deputy before he is charged

While this seems unlikely given Mike Sonko's reluctance to name a deputy for close to two years, he could still avert a legal crisis by nominating a Deputy Governor before is charged.

The Deputy Governor would be vetted and approved by the County Assembly before assuming office after Sonko temporarily exists the office.


Nairobi County stays without a Governor

The possibility of this scenario arises from the fact that there is no vacancy that will arise in the Office of the Governor even if Sonko is charged and steps aside from office. Even while away, he will remain the Governor of Nairobi.

Article 182 provides five instances where a vacancy in the Office of the Governor will arise, namely if a Governor:

(a) dies

(b) resigns, in writing, addressed to the speaker of the county assembly;


(c) ceases to be eligible to be elected county governor under Article 180 (2);

(d) is convicted of an offence punishable by imprisonment for at least twelve months; or

(e) is removed from office under this Constitution.

None of these grounds would apply if Sonko is forced to step aside - meaning the Nairobi County Government would legally operate without any official being answerable to the Governor.

Sonko is impeached


The County Assembly can use the incapacitation of the Governor as grounds for impeaching Sonko.

Speaker Beatrice Elachi becomes Governor

If the Governor's office becomes vacant on grounds of impeachment, the Deputy Governor is supposed to continue surviving for the remainder of that term.

However, in the case of Nairobi where there is no Deputy Governor, the Speaker of the County Assembly would temporarily take over as County Governor for a period of 60 days.

By election in Nairobi


Upon Elachi taking over as the temporary County Governor, a by-election would follow within a period of sixty days.

Nairobi voters would then elect a fresh Governor and Deputy Governor.


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