Costly cases leave petitioners staring at multi-million loses and emotional toll

When the curtains fell on the highly-polarised but peaceful General election in August 2017, a total of 277 cases were lodged to challenge the outcomes of the six elective-seats.

The cases filled by the September 8 deadline, represented an 88-case rise from the petitions handled after the 2013 General Election-- an upsurge that was attributed to the Supreme Court’s decision to annul President Uhuru Kenyatta’s win.  

Election petitioners have however, had to pay huge costs as judges continue to dismiss tens of the cases, months after a similarly expensive election.

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In 2013 Kanu Secretary General Nick Salat was slapped with a Sh70 million bill after unsuccessfully challenging Bomet County Senator Prof Wilfred Lesan’s win; the country’s most expensive petition.

The High Court upheld Lesan’s win asking Salat to pay costs amounting to Sh57,638,970 and a further Sh10,422,511 to Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC).

Lesan’s lawyers also asked for other compensations among them Sh1500 for every hour they spent in the journey to and from Kericho during the hearing of the case.

Recently on February 12, 2017, Justice Kiarie Waweru dismissed Peter Odima’s petition challenging Busia Governor Sospeter Ojaamong’s win, on grounds that it lacked merit.

Peter Odima who was the lead campaigner of Paul Otuoma, Ojaamong’s biggest rival in the election, was handed a Sh12 million bill in costs.

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The money is to be shouldered equally by the three respondents in the case.

In another case that dug deep into the pockets of the petitioner, Wavinya Ndeti was ordered to pay Sh10 million after Justice Muchele dismissed her petition last Friday.

“The petition lacks merit…the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) conducted a free, fair and credible election,” said Judge Muchelule during the ruling.

In November 2017 Martha Karua , who lost the Kirinyaga governorship war to Anne Waiguru, was asked by a Kerugoya Court to pay a similar amount, a decision she has since appealed.

Karua not only wants the nullification of the election of Waiguru but also other elective-race victories in the county.

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The former Justice and Constitutional minister faulted the cost saying it was punitive as the case had not proceeded to hearing.

Yesterday when she successfully applied for the recusal of Justice Otieno Odek from hearing her appeal over perceived bias, she took a stab at the local media for not reporting that but allegedly repeated the award of the costs.

@NationBreaking @StandardKenya i was in court today for my petition appeal where we successfully applied for Judge Odek JA to recuse himself from hearing my appeal. How come that is not news yet you keep repeating the dismissal of my petition and award of costs of ten million?” she posted on Twitter.

Another high profile case to be dismissed is that lodged by two voters Japheth Muroko and Zachaeus Oliech seeking the nullification of Nairobi County gubernatorial results.  Jubilee’s Mike Sonko won the seat against incumbent Evans Kidero of ODM.

The duo had wanted to withdraw the case citing security fears but High Court Judge Justice Msagha Mbogholi dismissed the case and ordered each of the petitioners to pay Sh5m to Sonko and IEBC respectively which amounted to Sh20 million.

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Another duo George Ogake and Charles Orit incurred a heavy bill too when Lady Justice Winfrida Okwany ordered them to Sh8 million in a case challenging Kisii Senator Sam Ongeri’s win.

Most of the dismissed cases have averaged a cost of over Sh3 million, raising concern that they could deter for poor from filing petitions in the future.  

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