Former Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko has released a statement after he was banned from setting foot in the United States.
The US State Department declared Sonko a persona non grata alongside his wife Primrose Mbuvi, his daughters Agnes Saumu Mbuvi and Salma Wanjiru Mbuvi, and his underage son over his involvement in corruption during his tenure as Nairobi governor.
Sonko says he is shocked by the decision to ban him and his immediate family members from entering the US, claiming it was State-sanctioned in a bid to scuttle his political ambitions.
“I am indeed shocked by the move taken by the U.S. Department of State to designate my family and I in what they allege as involvement in significant corruption in Kenya,” Sonko said in a statement.
“This is a strategic political move to silence me and curb my political ambitions but I will never be cowed.”
Sonko, who was impeached in 2020 over graft allegations, questioned why other political bigwigs who are facing corruption charges are yet to be banned by the US.
“Am I the only politician facing corruption case in Kenya? The Judiciary is currently addressing over 400 cases of corruption 20 out of which are facing politicians. The move is obviously motivated by my political rivals to deny my right as a Kenyan Citizen,” he said.
At the same time, Sonko noted that no court of law has found him guilty of the alleged corruption offenses, adding that he is ready to prove that he is innocent.
“I respect the rule of the law and I have faith in our judiciary. I am sure and ready to prove that I am not corrupt,” he added.
The ban was announced on Tuesday by Counselor for Public Affairs at the US Embassy in Nairobi Eric Watnik on behalf of the US Secretary of State Antony Blinken. Watnik said the US had obtained credible information that Sonko was involved in graft, including bribery, irregular awarding of tenders, and undermining the rule of law.
“We determined that he received bribes in kickbacks in exchange for irregular awarding of contracts to his associates for personal gains,” said Watnik.
The ban, Watnik said, is based on provisions of Section 7031(c) of the Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Act 2020.