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IEBC: we’re not aware of Polycarp Igathe’s resignation as Sonko deputy

The leadership crisis at Nairobi County has taken a new twist after the electoral commission said it is not aware of the resignation of Polycarp Igathe from the office of Deputy Governor.

While responding to a letter from the County Assembly Clerk and Speaker Beatrice Elachi who were seeking advice on governance at the devolved unit, the Commission said it has never received a formal communication on Mr Igathe’s resignation.

The Clerk and the Speaker had written to the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) through lawyer John Diro after Governor Mike Sonko was barred by the court from accessing his office due to a pending graft case.

The new development throws into disarray an application for an Advisory Opinion filed at the Supreme Court by Ms Elachi and the Clerk seeking clarity on what should happen in the absence of a Governor and his\her Deputy.

“On the vacancy in the office of the Deputy Governor, Nairobi County, the Commission has not received any formal communication as to the alleged vacancy other than information in the media,” IEBC responded in a letter addressed to Mr Diro.

The letter is signed by Michael Goa, IEBC Director of Legal and Public Affairs and is dated January 9, 2020.

Mr Goa was responding on behalf of acting IEBC chief executive officer Marjan Hussein.

Replace him

The communication means that Mr Igathe’s resignation has never been gazetted so as to enable the electoral commission to declare a vacancy and consequently allow Mr Sonko to replace him.

Since Sonko has nominated Ms Anne Mwenda as his deputy, according to the IEBC, this move could mean that Sonko wants to have two deputies since Mr Igathe is still the legal office holder.

Mr Igathe left office in January 2018 on grounds that he had failed to earn the trust of Sonko to enable him work at the county.

On Sonko’s debarment from office, IEBC declined to comment, saying only the court can guide on the way forward.

But it noted that it had developed a procedure for clearance of a person nominated as Deputy Governor and shared it with the Council of Governors.

“As to the advisory on the current status and continuity of the Nairobi City County, we have observed that the Commission has no role in the running of day to day activities of a county government and therefore is unable to comment on the same,” said Mr Goa.

Speaker and the clerk had also filed a legal Advisory Opinion at the Supreme Court seeking directions on whether there is a vacuum in the office of the governor and whether Mr Sonko can appoint his deputy.

In the application, they want clarity on whether the Speaker can take up the governor’s office as per the law with full powers.

“The anti-corruption commission issued conditions for granting bail to Governor Sonko amongst which include barring the governor from accessing office. Consequently, he cannot exercise functions as donated to him by law. There is no deputy governor to assume the functions of the governor. Legally there is no vacancy but technically operations of the county have since ground to a halt,” indicated lawyer Diro.

They also want the highest court to unlock the stalemate amid the absence of both the governor and the Deputy Governor.