Nairobi governor Mike Mbuvi Sonko on Wednesday turned heads after he was brought to Milimani Law Courts in an ambulance.
The governor, who was admitted at Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH) on Monday night after falling ill at Kamiti Maximum Prison, was appearing in court for his bail ruling.
After admitting the governor to bail, Anti-corruption court Chief Magistrate Douglas Ogoti pressed the defence team to explain why Sonko was brought to court in an ambulance.
This is after lawyer Cecil Miller requested to have Sonko taken back to hospital alluding that he needed urgent medical care.
“The letter from Kenyatta hospital says Accused One is suffering from hypertension.. meaning he should be in hospital…We therefore urge the court to allow him to go back to hospital as we process the bail term as prescribed by the doctor….” Miller said.
Baffled, Ogoti asked: “Why did you bring him to court with an ambulance?”
In a quick rejoinder, lawyer Kipchumba Murkomen responded: “We did not want to take any chances.”
The defence further claimed that there were officers waiting to arrest Sonko outside the courtroom.
Not convinced, citing a ruling by Justice, Ogoti stated that it was not necessary saying Sonko’s failure to appear in court under such circumstances couldn’t affect the issuance of bail to his co-accused.
“Your fear was unfounded to bring the accused to courtroom sick since there is an order from a Machakos court that absence of an accused persons doesn’t not interfere with bail issuing to co-accused persons, ” the magistrate told Murkomen.
Ogoti added, “I can tell you from where I sit, you didn’t have to disturb a sick person from the hospital. I would have gone ahead and given directions.”
Sonko, who on Monday pleaded not guilty to 19 graft charges in the Ksh357 million corruption and abuse of office case, was granted Ksh15 million cash bail or Ksh30 million cash bond or one surety of a similar amount.
Justice Ogoti further barred Sonko from accessing his office. He is also required to deposit his passport in the court.
“If need be he can be escorted to his office by the investigating officer or any other authorised officer to enable him pick his belongings, ” said Justice Ogoti while quoting High Court Judge Mumbi Ngugi’s ruling that governors accused of corruption and abuse of office be barred from office until their cases are heard and determined.
The magistrate directed Sonko to ensure his supporters don’t cause unrest or cause “disruption to any known legal process that would disrupt peace in any form”.
The governor and his eight co-accused were also barred from communicating with witnesses in the case.
The prosecution had opposed the release of Sonko on bail arguing that he will interfere with witnesses.
Citing a 1997 case involving Sonko, the prosecution argued that the governor should not be released on bail as he is accused of escaping Shimo La Tewa prison after he feigned illness.
Miller dismissed the claims saying if the governor had a pending criminal case, authorities couldn’t have cleared him to run for a government position.
“The police, EACC cleared him to run as MP, Senator and even Governor. If he was a prison escapee, how could this have happened? There is neither a pending case nor a warrant of arrest against Sonko,” he stated.