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Reprieve for Wambora as court upholds poll victory

Embu Governor Martin Wambora is a man with the proverbial nine lives! He survived yet another bid to oust him after the Court of Appeal on Friday upheld his election. 

Appellate judges William Ouko, Daniel Musinga and Fatuma Sichale overturned the High Court decision that nullified Wambora’s win in the 2017 election, ruling that he was validly elected.

They said the petitioner, former senator Lenny Kivuti, did not provide convincing evidence that the final election results were inflated and the statutory forms doctored in Wambora’s favour. Further, claims that the total votes cast in three out of four constituencies exceeded the number of registered voters were baseless, the judges added.

While serving his first term, Wambora was the first governor to impeached and the only one to face the jeopardy twice, but he survived.

Last year he narrowly beat Kivuti to be elected for second term. But on February 22, High Court judge William Musyoka nullified Wambora’s victory on grounds of  glaring irregularities during the counting and tallying.

However, Appelate judges Friday said the trial judge was “pre-occupied” with the narrow margin of votes that formed the basis of the petition and went out of his way to analyse administrative setbacks that were discovered after the recount and tallying of votes.

Supporters of Wambora and his deputy David Kariuki broke into song and dance following the verdict.

Lawyers Ahmednasir Abdullahi and Marete Kithinji, representing the governor, said the court had upheld the basic principle that Wambora had received the highest number of votes despite procedural and administrative hitches during the exercise.

Wambora lodged the appeal on March 20.

Meanwhile, victories of two Members of Parliament — Starehe’s Charles Njagua Kanyi aka Jaguar and Lang’ata’s Nixon Korir—were upheld.

Appellate judges Daniel Musinga, Agnes Murgor and James Otieno-Odek dismissed an appeal by Steve Mbogo challenging the February 26 decision by High Court judge Fred Ochieng to uphold Njagua’s election as Starehe MP.

Mbogo was aggrieved by findings by Justice Ochieng’ that he did not provide sufficient evidence of irregularities that marred the polls.

But the three-judge Appellate Bench said: “We are not persuaded that the trial Judge erred in finding that the Starehe Constituency election was conducted in a free and fair manner. In the absence of any scintilla of evidence demonstrating bias on the part of the election court, this ground of appeal must fail.”

However, the court slashed the Sh10 million in costs awarded to Jaguar and the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission  to Sh4 million.

In another appeal, Justices Erastus Githinji, Philip Waki and Murgor dismissed grievances by ODM candidate Oscar Ocholla Omoke that Korir was not validly elected as the Lang’ata MP. He had challenged the outcome of the election alongside Kariuki Kavore and Margarey Nduta Kiragu.

High Court Judge Lucy Mwihaki Njuguna had dismissed the petition on February 27 on the basis that the aggrieved parties did not provide sufficient evidence of electoral malpractice to justify the nullification of the outcome of the election. The Judge had dismissed claims by the petitioners that Deputy President William Ruto had imposed Korir on Langata voters.

“We find that the trial court rightly concluded that no basis was established for reaching a finding that the election of the Langata MP was not free and fair,” the Appellate Judges said.

       -PAUL MUHOHO

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