Kenya

I'm broke, I can't pay school fees, Sonko tells court

I'm broke, I can't pay school fees, Sonko tells court

Former Nairobi governor Mike Sonko who has told a court that he is so broke he can neither afford to pay his lawyers nor settle school fees for his children.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

Former Nairobi governor Mike Sonko has said he is so broke he can neither afford to pay his lawyers nor settle school fees for his children.

Sonko now wants a Nairobi court to return Sh15 million he deposited into the Judiciary's account as cash bail in a corruption case.

Some of the money, he said in court papers, was from friends and relatives.

He has applied to have the cash bail substituted with logbooks of motor vehicles offered by an unnamed person.

The money was deposited in December 2019 in two tranches.

The first amount of Sh5 million, was from Sonko's account while the second tranche of Sh10 million was deposited by Nairobi Deputy Governor Anne Kananu Mwenda following contributions from Sonko's friends and relatives.

Central collection point

"Ms Kananu swore an affidavit on December 11, 2019 stating that she had acted as a central collection point for funds from contributors and deposited it with the court as cash bail for Mr Sonko," says lawyer Phillip Kaingu who is representing the former governor.

"She, therefore, was only an agent and the Sh10 million did not belong to her. Neither was she a contributor or owner of any part of it but rather an agent tasked with depositing the money with the court to enable Sonko to come out of custody," says Mr Kaingu.

The lawyer argues in the application that the former governor is in dire need of finances to enable him to cater for his health, pay fees for his university and school-going children, pay his advocates' legal fees and generally meet his family's daily needs.

New surety

The lawyer says Sonko has secured a surety who is willing to deposit three motor vehicle logbooks as security in order to have the cash released.

"The motor vehicles have a cumulative assessed value of Sh30.4 million and are also comprehensively insured," says Sonko in the court pleadings.

The cars are listed as KCE 111M, KCJ 007F and KCN 900Q.

"Ever since he was released from custody, he has religiously been abiding with the terms of his release and has continually attended court for hearing and mention. More than 10 witnesses have already testified in the three cases facing Mr Sonko and there is no risk of flight on his part," states the lawyer.

Accounts frozen

Since all his bank accounts were frozen due to allegations of corruption, money laundering and crime, the former city county boss wants the cash bail amount to be released to his lawyer.

Sonko’s 10 bank accounts holding more than Sh18 million were frozen last year on suspicion that the money was stolen from the county government.

The order was obtained by the Assets Recovery Agency.

The court barred Sonko from transferring, withdrawing or using the funds deposited in six accounts at Equity Bank, three at Diamond Trust Bank and another at Co-operative Bank of Kenya.

The fresh application was filed at the High Court because the proceedings at the lower court have been suspended pending determination of another application.

The lawyer fears that unless the application is heard during the court's vacation, his client will suffer real and present danger.

He further argues that the Director of Public Prosecutions would not be prejudiced if the court allows the substitution.

The application is awaiting directions.