Reuben Mwambingu @reubenmwambingu
Taita Taveta Governor Granton Samboja can temporarily breathe easy after a Voi court threw out an election petition challenging his win. In his ruling, Justice Eric Ogolla said for justice to be realised, it was imperative to dismiss the case to pave way for the High Court in Nairobi to carry on with a similar case on the governor’s academic qualifications. He said the court has “adequate personnel, mechanisms, time and investigative resources to undertake the trial”.
Ogolla said the petitioners erred by filing the case when they knew that a similar case challenging authenticity of Samboja’s degree certificate was going on at Milimani Law Courts in Nairobi, adding that the court had no powers to investigate and determine the validity of Samboja’s credentials in a timely fashion as all election petitions are supposed to be disposed of by next month.
“All election cases should be heard and determined by the end of February, therefore this court does not have enough time to determine the matter before then,” he said.
The judge ruled that the two petitioners; Armstrong Kiwoi and Thomas Jumwa only challenged authenticity of Samboja’s education credentials and did not raise issues of election irregularities and therefore, it was a replica of the other case filed in Nairobi.
“This was gross abuse of court process and a misuse of judicial time. For justice to be seen to be served, one of these petitions must give way so the issue of academic qualifications of the first respondent is investigated and tried in Nairobi,” he said.
He directed the EACC, Attorney General and Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) to pursue the case against Samboja, at constitutional division of Milimani Law Court. EACC filed the case on August 1, challenging Samboja’s nomination to vie for the top county seat.
The commission accused the electoral agency of clearing the politician despite the existence of questions about his degree. “That petition has adequate personnel, mechanism, time and investigative resources to undertake the trial…
It is also the finding of this Court that the petition is a duplication of the petition number 382 of 2017 filed in Nairobi…for that reason, this petition is hereby struck out so that petition number 382 of 2017 may proceed unhindered,” Justice Ogolla said in his ruling.
He further noted that should the petition in Nairobi succeed and the Court finds that the Governor did not have requisite academic qualifications, “the law will take its proper course.”