Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko with is lawyers a Milimani anti-corruption court where the pleaded not guilty to corruption charges. [George Njunge, Standard]
Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko and his co- accused will have to remain in police custody pending the ruling on his bail application in the graft case.
Sonko lawyers had applied for bail application, arguing that the governor was sick and needed medical attention, but Prosecution team opposed the application saying the governor was a flight risk having escaped from jail before.
While setting the ruling date to Wednesday at 11am, the magistrate ruled that the governor be treated in the presence of the prisons’ authority.
Sonko and his co-accused comprising county officers and directors of companies denied multiple corruption and economic crimes charges before Chief Magistrate Douglas Ogoti at the Milimani Law Courts in Nairobi on Monday.
SEE ALSO :Uhuru launches construction of JKIA-Westlands ExpresswayProsecution team led by Gitonga Riungu and James Kihara had objected Sonko’s release on bail, citing the 1998 incident in which he was convicted for failing to appear before a Mombasa court three times in his previous cases.
The prosecution referred to the instance where the Shimo La Tewa Commissioner of Prisons advanced claims that Sonko escaped from lawful custody after going to Coast General Hospital for treatment.
But Sonko’s defence team rebutted arguing that his alleged escape from Shimo La Tewa is a malicious claim aimed at mudslinging him.
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The accused face nine charges including conspiracy to commit offence of corruption, willful failure to comply with procurement laws, conflict of interest, abuse of office, unlawful acquisition of public property, deceiving principal, money laundering and acquisition of proceeds of crime.
In the soup are also county officials who have been charged with benefitting from the irregular procurement and payments. They are County Secretary Peter Mbugua; Head of Supply Chain Management Patrick Mwangangi; Negotiation, Tender Opening and Evaluation Committee members Edwin Kariuki, Lawrence Mwangi, Preston Mwandiki and Clerical Officers Wambua Ndaka and Andrew Nyasiego.
SEE ALSO :Sonko wanted by anti-graft agency over ‘criminal’ pastWhile setting the ruling date to Wednesday at 11am, the magistrate ruled that the governor be treated in the presence of the prisons’ authority.
Sonko’s lead lawyer Cecil Miller introduced a phalanx of his lawyer colleagues ahead of the plea taking.
They included Mutula Kilonzo Jr, Harrisson Kinyanjui, Daniel Maanzo, Kipchumba Murkomen, Nelson Havi, George Kithi, Kwanga Mboya, Osundwa Micheal, Alphonce Mutinda, and Phillip Kaindu among many others.
The governor alongside the directors of Web Tribe Ltd is accused of corruption and conspiracy to defraud the county government of Sh24 million.
The charge sheet tabulates other fifteen charges of conflict of interest involving Governor Sonko and Web Tribe Ltd, ROG Security Ltd associated with Antony Otieno Ombok among other companies and their directors.
SEE ALSO :Chaos as Sonko fights cheating claims by EACCThe governor is largely accused of receiving Sh1 million from Yira Enterprises in each of the several deals that involved hiring heavy equipment from the county government.
Under the charge of conflict of interest, Sonko is accused of acquiring Sh1 million from Fredrick Odhiambo of Yiro Enterprises on multiple occasions which are proceeds of crime.
Sonko also faces charges of money laundering and receiving proceeds of crime from Hardi Enterprises Ltd and Toddy Civil Engineering Ltd associated with Antony Mwaura Ng’ang’a and Rose Njeri Ng’ang’a.
On Monday, another charge sheet emerged in which the governor was accused of committing three offences during his arrest in Voi on Friday. They include assault of police officer, willfully resisting arrest and using abusive language towards police officers.
He protested his arrest yesterday and blamed his woes on politics.
SEE ALSO :Embattled Sonko losses bid to block corruption probe “I am convinced that my arrest was politically-schemed and designed to humiliate and embarrass me,” read his statement.
“There was no point for the deployment of a police helicopter, more than 25 police cars, and 200 police officers to locate and arrest me while we all know on that on the same material day there was terror attack in Wajir County where the chopper with this kind of reinforcement, deployment and operation was needed.”
He denied claims that he was trying to escape to Tanzania on Friday when he was arrested in Voi.
The Nairobi County crisis has compelled the Council of Governors (CoG) to urgently ask for a meeting with President Uhuru Kenyatta following the arrest of Governor Mike Sonko.
It is not clear when Uhuru will honour the request.
The President on Sunday said no leader would use their position to escape prosecution. He added that leaders found guilty of corruption should carry their own cross.
He was speaking at St Francis of Asisi Catholic Church in Ruiru town during a fundraiser.
In a statement on Sunday, CoG, the body that brings together all the 47 county chiefs, said it has been monitoring and consulting widely.
“We are, however, aware of the uniqueness of the County Government and therefore shall reach out to President Uhuru Kenyatta to convene an emergency Summit to address the evolving situation,” the council chair Governor Wycliffe Oparanya said.
What next for Nairobi?
Without a deputy governor, Nairobi County has found itself in a dicey situation but lawyer Duncan Okatch argues that there is no cause for alarm.
“The seat of the governor has not fallen vacant, therefore, we are not in the situation where the law indicates that the Speaker act for 60 days,” he said, in an interview with Standard Digital.
The Constitution states that the office of the governor shall become vacant if the holder of the office dies, resigns, ceases to be eligible to be elected county governor; is convicted of an offence punishable by imprisonment for at least twelve months or is removed from office under this Constitution.
The law also states that in the event a vacancy occurs in the office of county governor and that of deputy county governor, or if the deputy county governor is unable to act, the speaker of the county assembly shall act as county governor, but only for sixty (60) days.
Speaking to Standard Digital on phone, lawyers cited the High Court ruling that barred Kiambu Governor Ferdinand Waititu and his Samburu counterpart Moses Lenolkulal from accessing their offices after they were charged with corruption.
Just like in the case of Waititu and Lenolkulal, Sonko would be barred from discharging his duties hence the Speaker will come in.
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Nairobi Governor Mike SonkoBail rulingGraft charges
Public officers above 58 years and with pre-existing conditions told to work from home: The Standard
Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua. [File, Standard]
In a document from Head of Public Service, Joseph Kinyua new measure have been outlined to curb the bulging spread of covid-19. Public officers with underlying health conditions and those who are over 58 years -a group that experts have classified as most vulnerable to the virus will be required to execute their duties from home.
However, the new rule excluded personnel in the security sector and other critical and essential services.
“All State and public officers with pre-existing medical conditions and/or aged 58 years and above serving in CSG5 (job group ‘S’) and below or their equivalents should forthwith work from home,” read the document,” read the document.
To ensure that those working from home deliver, the Public Service directs that there be clear assignments and targets tasked for the period designated and a clear reporting line to monitor and review work done.
SEE ALSO: Thinking inside the cardboard box for post-lockdown work stations
Others measures outlined in the document include the provision of personal protective equipment to staff, provision of sanitizers and access to washing facilities fitted with soap and water, temperature checks for all staff and clients entering public offices regular fumigation of office premises and vehicles and minimizing of visitors except by prior appointments.
Officers who contract the virus and come back to work after quarantine or isolation period will be required to follow specific directives such as obtaining clearance from the isolation facility certified by the designated persons indicating that the public officer is free and safe from Covid-19. The officer will also be required to stay away from duty station for a period of seven days after the date of medical certification.
“The period a public officer spends in quarantine or isolation due to Covid-19, shall be treated as sick leave and shall be subject to the Provisions of the Human Resource Policy and procedures Manual for the Public Service(May,2016),” read the document.
The service has also made discrimination and stigmatization an offence and has guaranteed those affected with the virus to receive adequate access to mental health and psychosocial supported offered by the government.
The new directives targeting the Public Services come at a time when Kenyans have increasingly shown lack of strict observance of the issued guidelines even as the number of positive Covid-19 cases skyrocket to 13,771 and leaving 238 dead as of today.
SEE ALSO: Working from home could be blessing in disguise for persons with disabilities
Principal Secretaries/ Accounting Officers will be personally responsible for effective enforcement and compliance of the current guidelines and any future directives issued to mitigate the spread of Covid-19.
Uhuru convenes summit to review rising Covid-19 cases: The Standard
President Uhuru Kenyatta (pictured) will on Friday, July 24, meet governors following the ballooning Covid-19 infections in recent days.
The session will among other things review the efficacy of the containment measures in place and review the impact of the phased easing of the restrictions, State House said in a statement.
This story is being updated.
SEE ALSO: Sakaja resigns from Covid-19 Senate committee, in court tomorrow
Drastic life changes affecting mental health
Kenya has been ranked 6th among African countries with the highest cases of depression, this has triggered anxiety by the World Health Organization (WHO), with 1.9 million people suffering from a form of mental conditions such as depression, substance abuse.
Globally, one in four people is affected by mental or neurological disorders at some point in their lives, this is according to the WHO.
Currently, around 450 million people suffer from such conditions, placing mental disorders among the leading causes of ill-health and disability worldwide.
The pandemic has also been known to cause significant distress, mostly affecting the state of one’s mental well-being.
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With the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic attributed to the novel Coronavirus disease, millions have been affected globally with over 14 million infections and half a million deaths as to date. This has brought about uncertainty coupled with difficult situations, including job loss and the risk of contracting the deadly virus.
In Kenya the first Coronavirus case was reported in Nairobi by the Ministry of Health on the 12th March 2020. It was not until the government put in place precautionary measures including a curfew and lockdown (the latter having being lifted) due to an increase in the number of infections that people began feeling its effect both economically and socially.
A study by Dr. Habil Otanga, a Lecturer at the University of Nairobi, Department of Psychology says that such measures can in turn lead to surge in mental related illnesses including depression, feelings of confusion, anger and fear, and even substance abuse. It also brings with it a sense of boredom, loneliness, anger, isolation and frustration. In the post-quarantine/isolation period, loss of employment due to the depressed economy and the stigma around the disease are also likely to lead to mental health problems.
The Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) states that at least 300,000 Kenyans have lost their jobs due to the Coronavirus pandemic between the period of January and March this year.
KNBC noted that the number of employed Kenyans plunged to 17.8 million as of March from 18.1 million people as compared to last year in December. The Report states that the unemployment rate in Kenya stands at 13.7 per cent as of March this year while it stood 12.4 per cent in December 2019.
Mama T (not her real name) is among millions of Kenyans who have been affected by containment measures put in place to curb the spread of the virus, either by losing their source of income or having to work under tough guidelines put in place by the MOH.
As young mother and an event organizer, she has found it hard to explain to her children why they cannot go to school or socialize freely with their peers as before.
“Sometimes it gets difficult as they do not understand what is happening due to their age, this at times becomes hard on me as they often think I am punishing them,”
Her contract was put on hold as no event or public gatherings can take place due to the pandemic. This has brought other challenges along with it, as she has to find means of fending for her family expenditures that including rent and food.
“I often wake up in the middle of the night with worries about my next move as the pandemic does not exhibit any signs of easing up,” she says. She adds that she has been forced to sort for manual jobs to keep her family afloat.
Ms. Mary Wahome, a Counseling Psychologist and Programs Director at ‘The Reason to Hope,’ in Karen, Nairobi says that such kind of drastic life changes have an adverse effect on one’s mental status including their family members and if not addressed early can lead to depression among other issues.
“We have had cases of people indulging in substance abuse to deal with the uncertainty and stress brought about by the pandemic, this in turn leads to dependence and also domestic abuse,”
Sam Njoroge , a waiter at a local hotel in Kiambu, has found himself indulging in substance abuse due to challenges he is facing after the hotel he was working in was closed down as it has not yet met the standards required by the MOH to open.
“My day starts at 6am where I go to a local pub, here I can get a drink for as little as Sh30, It makes me suppress the frustration I feel.” he says.
Sam is among the many who have found themselves in the same predicament and resulted to substance abuse finding ways to beat strict measures put in place by the government on the sale of alcohol so as to cope.
Mary says, situations like Sam’s are dangerous and if not addressed early can lead to serious complications, including addiction and dependency, violent behavior and also early death due to health complications.
She has, however, lauded the government for encouraging mental wellness and also launching the Psychological First Aid (PFA) guide in the wake of the virus putting emphasis on the three action principal of look, listen and link. “When we follow this it will be easy to identify an individual in distress and also offer assistance”.
Mary has urged anyone feeling the weight of the virus taking a toll on them not to hesitate but look for someone to talk to.
“You should not only seek help from a specialist but also talk to a friend, let them know what you are undergoing and how you feel, this will help ease their emotional stress and also find ways of dealing with the situation they are facing,” She added
Mary continued to stress on the need to perform frequent body exercises as a form of stress relief, reading and also taking advantage of this unfortunate COVID-19 period to engage in hobbies and talent development.
“Let people take this as an opportunity to kip fit, get in touch with one’s inner self and also engage in reading that would help expand their knowledge.