Winstone Chiseremi and Githinji Mwangi
It was a sigh of relief for Nandi Hills MP Alfred Keter after the Court of Appeal sitting in Eldoret yesterday ruled he was validly elected.
Separately, the Court of Appeal upheld election of Kirinyaga Senator Charles Kibiru and affirmed a High Court decision to prevent three voters from pursuing the petition filed by former Senator Daniel Karaba.
Keter had filed the case at the Appeals Court following a decision by former Eldoret High Court judge Kimondo Kanyi to declare his election as MP null and void in March.
The judge had cited numerous electoral malpractices Keter committed which informed his decision to declare his victory invalid.
Kanyi had further directed Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) to conduct fresh election for Nandi Hills electorate to vote in a leader of their choice.
But yesterday, the Court of Appeal judges Erastus Githinji, Hannah Okwengu and Jamilah Mohammed, declared that Keter was validly elected.
“We find that most of the allegations levelled against Keter in regards to the electoral malpractices of criminal nature were mere hearsay,” they ruled.
Benard Kibor, an independent candidate, had challenged Keter’s win and successfully petitioned the High Court to nullify the win.
Business came to a standstill in Eldoret town as hundreds of Keter supporters poured into the streets to celebrate the verdict. Keter thanked his supporters and a section of leaders in Rift Valley for standing with him in his “trying political moments”.
And in Kirinyaga, Justice Milton Makhandia reduced to Sh5 million the legal cost of Sh10 million slapped on Karaba by the High Court.
While concurring with Karaba that the costs were exorbitant, the judge said the high fee would have sent the wrong signal to litigants and instil fear of access to justice.
“Costs should not send wrong messages to bar others from accessing justice. But courts have discretion on which party would be awarded costs in a case,” said the judge.
Makhandia directed Karaba to pay IEBC and the senator Sh2.5 million each.