Senate Summons Nairobi Governor Johnson Sakaja Over Last Minute Cancelling of Meeting

The anticipated appearance of the Governor before the Senate Committee on Energy, scheduled for Thursday, March 21, to address inquiries regarding the tragic Embakasi Gas explosion resulting in the loss of innocent lives, took an unexpected turn. Instead of facing the committee, the Governor opted to send a letter expressing his regrets at 8:15 am, a mere 45 minutes before the scheduled session. In the letter, the Governor, Sakaja, cited his unavailability due to his attendance at a funeral.

The Governor elucidated that he was paying his respects at the funeral of Embakasi Central MP Mejjadonk Benjamin Gathiru’s father, who had passed away on March 12. However, this last-minute communication did not sit well with the committee members, prompting them to summon the Governor for further questioning. The new appearance date has been set for Thursday, March 28.

During the meeting, Nairobi Senator Edwin Sifuna reiterated the necessity for the House to consider a proposal aimed at penalizing leaders who fail to honor summons. This proposal, initially put forth in February, argued for a more substantial penalty than the current Ksh500,000 fine, deeming it insufficient to deter such behavior or compel compliance.

The proposal, encapsulated within the Parliamentary Powers and Privileges (Amendment) Bill, advocates for the establishment of a Parliamentary Police Unit empowered to apprehend cabinet secretaries, governors, and principal secretaries who disregard summons. Sifuna emphasized the importance of reinforcing the authority of the House to ensure the effective execution of its mandate.

It is worth noting that Governor Sakaja has been a recurrent offender in ignoring summons. In November 2023, he was fined Ksh500,000 for a similar offense. On November 14 of the same year, Sakaja was summoned to address various concerns raised by Nairobi residents, which he neglected. Subsequently, he missed another summons on November 30, attributing his absence to being in South Africa. This pattern of non-compliance led legislators to advocate for a more substantial penalty.