High Court Judge Mumbi Ngugi has disqualified herself from hearing an application filed by Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko challenging orders barring him from his City Hall office.
Sonko had in December last year sought to have Justice Ngugi and her two colleagues Grace Ngenye and John Onyiego recuse themselves from the proceedings citing possible biased ruling.
The embattled governor, through his lawyer Harrison Kinyanjui, argued that the judges had pronounced themselves in the corruption cases facing governors Moses Lenolkul (Samburu) and Ferdinand Waititu (Kiambu) barring them from office.
Sonko said the judges had portrayed open bias against applying section 62 of the anti-corruption and economic crimes act.
“All the cited judges in the division by their stated pronouncements and conduct have created in my mind the irresistible impression that they have taken the position of and in defense of the state organs so far as the scope of section 62 is concerned,” Sonko’s application reads in part.
While delivering a ruling on Governor Waititu’s case in July last year, Justice Ngugi held that governors, just like other civil servants, should step aside once charged with criminal offences and their roles taken over by their deputies for the duration of the trial.
“What message does it send to the citizens if their leaders are charged with serious corruption offences and are in office the following day, overseeing the affairs of the institution?” she said.
Last month, Court of Appeal Judge Jamila Mohammed upheld Justice Ngugi’s landmark ruling while presiding over Governor Lenolkul’s appeal. She stated that the ruling was constitutional as the governor’s seat was not vacated.
In her ruling Justice Mohamed also dismissed an appeal by Waititu who is charged with several counts of corruption and abuse of office.
Sonko is charged with 19 counts of graft charges. He is accused of misappropriating Ksh357 million from the county coffers.
He is also accused of irregularly awarding tenders to his close aides and forging documents leading to the loss of millions of shillings.
Sonko’s application will be mentioned on January 29.