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Mike Sonko's action on Chandarana supermarket 'illegal'

Chandarana Foodplus
A Chandarana store in Nairobi. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko has been faulted for ordering revocation of business licences of Chandarana Foodplus supermarket chain.

The order made on Sunday evening followed claims of racism at the retail chain after a leaked email disclosed it was planning a marketing strategy targeting “white customers” only.

Legal experts on Monday said Mr Sonko’s action was uncalled for since he has no powers to issue such orders singlehandedly.

According to Constitution expert Nzamba Kitonga, there are procedures that should be followed if a county government feels a business within its jurisdiction has breached the law.

“That action is not legal. There must be due process. They should have been summoned for a hearing before taking action,” he said in an interview with Nation.

Mr Kitonga added that the supermarket has a right to challenge the county boss’ decision in court.

His sentiments were shared by lawyer Richard Onsongo who said the governor had a choice to prosecute Chandarana owners and let the court decide on what action should be taken.

Alternatively, he said, Mr Sonko should have issued a notice to the supermarket and given them a fair hearing.

“What the governor did is totally illegal. He has no capacity to do that,” he said.

A statement that was issued by Chandarana on July 28 said Mrs Rima Patel, who was the author of the email that kicked off the storm on social media, was not proficient in English and that her language was “horrendous”.

“It is not a reflection of what we stand for, not in any remote way. We will take all the stern and strict steps necessary to ensure it never happens again,” read the statement in part.

Suba North MP Millie Odhiambo advised Mr Sonko to be seeking legal advice before taking drastic measures that do not lie under his mandate.

Speaking during an interview on Citizen TV on Monday morning, the legislator, who is also a lawyer, said the governor has no mandate to revoke licences.

However, in the same interview, Nairobi County Assembly Speaker Beatrice Elachi said what people should be questioning is whether the governor got the right advice.

“There is no way the governor would just think of something and do it. He has advisers to advise him legally,” she said.

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