There was joy and dance yesterday after the High Court in Malindi dismissed a petition challenging the election of Tana River Governor Dhado Godhana in last year’s elections.
Supporters of Governor Godhana, local politicians and county staff, burst into song and dance immediately Justice Asenath Ongeri concluded reading her judgement.
Court orderlies had a rough time controlling the crowds running along court corridors singing loudly hence disrupting proceedings in other court rooms.
Addressing journalists outside the court, the governor, accompanied by his deputy Kea Batuyu and lawyer Tom Ojienda, said he was now free to work for the people of Tana River and asked his opponent to accept the court’s verdict.
“I have now confirmed that the petitioner was just distracting the court and hoodwinking his supporters yet he knew very well that he lost the election fair and square,” he said.
A senior officer in the governor’s office, Moses Nandalwe, said plans to officially celebrate the victory from the court was underway and urged Tana River residents who had travelled in large numbers to witness the judgement to wait for the date.
Former governor Hussein Dado had moved to court seeking to invalidate Godhana’s win.
In her ruling, Justice Ongeri said the petition lacked merit and dismissed it with costs capped at Sh2 million.
“I accordingly find that this petition lacks merit and I dismiss it with costs to respondents,” she ruled.
The Independent Election and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) who were also respondents in the case, declared Godhana the winner with 25,958 against Dado’s 24,194 votes.
Ongeri said the petitioner’s claim that there was violence that disrupted the elections was not substantiated since the petitioner failed to demonstrate how the respondents were either responsible for the violence or condoned or connived in the perpetration of violence.
“He also failed to establish that the violence was so pervasive that it affected the right to vote,” read justice Ongeri.
Dado had claimed that the respondents were responsible for the violence that erupted at the Mau Mau Girls Primary School that was used as the county tallying centre.
“I have carefully considered the evidence adduced by the parties in this petition, the affidavits sworn by the witnesses were adopted as their evidence in chief,” read part of the 96-page judgment.
It was also discovered that during the submission stage, Dado tried to sneak in pleadings that forms 37As and 37Cs were altered but it was downplayed.