The governor of Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, Mike Sonko Mbuvi, has been removed from office after the senate upheld his impeachment by the regional assembly.
Senators found Mr Sonko guilty of four charges including gross violation of the constitution, abuse of office, gross misconduct and other crimes under the national law.
Among allegations filed against him by Nairobi county legislators were accusations of using public monies to fund his daughter’s trip to New York in 2018 and misuse of bursary funds for underprivileged children in Nairobi.
Mr Sonko, known for his flashy lifestyle and clothes that include gold jewellery, denied the charges claiming he was a victim of corrupt cartels in Nairobi, which are fighting his attempts to stop public looting.
The ousted governor is no stranger to controversy. Prison authorities in Kenya recently accused him of escaping from a maximum facility 20 years ago. Mr Sonko has publicly admitted to the prison break during a live television interview.
Last December, he was arrested on suspicion of corruption.
He once included bottles of Hennessy as part of Covid-19 sanitation kits distributed to Nairobians claiming “ the alcohol content in the drink could stop Coronavirus”.
Mr Sonko was elected Nairobi governor in 2017 on a ticket of President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Jubilee Party.
But the two have since fallen out with President Kenyatta forcing through a deal that saw major functions of the county moved to the national government.
Mr Kenyatta also appointed a serving military general to run the county, and in effect making Mr Sonko a ceremonial governor
Sonko, who took part in the ceremony to hand over the county functions, later claimed that he had been drunk while signing the documents.
A populist, who started his political career in Eastlands Nairobi, the former governor enjoys massive support among the youth in poor and slum areas of the capital.
He runs his own Sonko Rescue Team – which provide ambulances, fire engines, hearses and wedding limousines to residents of the capital. But critics accuse his outfit of being a parallel public service provider with no clear source of funding.
Residents of Nairobi will now have to go for a by-election in 60 days as Mr Sonko has no serving deputy.
He becomes the second sitting governor to be impeached after Kiambu county’s Ferdinand Waititu was removed from office in January facing similar charges. Mr Waititu denied any wrongdoing.