Blow to Wambora as court nullifies his win

Former Embu Senator Lenny Kivuti addresses the press outside the Embu High Court after an election court nullified Governor Martin Wambora’s win and ordered for a by-election on February 22, 2018. [Photo by Joseph Muchiri/Standard]
Embu Governor Martin Wambora has lost his seat after the High Court yesterday ruled that his election was marred by irregularities.

Mr Wambora, who is not a stranger in the corridors of justice, becomes the third county chief to lose his seat in an election petition filed after last year's General Election. The other two are Ahmed Mohammed Abdi Mahamud of Wajir and Cyprian Awiti of Homa Bay.

The High Court in Embu nullified the election, citing irregularities and discrepancies, and ordered a by-election within 60 days. Judge William Musyoka made the ruling on a petition by former Embu senator Lenny Kivuti, who lost to Wambora.

Kivuti had applied for scrutiny and recount of votes in 357 polling stations, which the court granted, and he got 96,989 against Wambora’s 97,771 reducing the gap between the two to about 800 from 985 before the recount.

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Justice Musyoka said irregularities were found during the vote scrutiny and re-tally, specifically anomalies in forms 37A, where 26 of them could not be traced.

In some instances, the scrutiny showed that the number of votes in the ballot boxes exceeded the number of registered voters, the number of unaccounted for ballots were in the region of 560, among other irregularities.

"Compliance with the law and the election management Act is supreme. Failing to comply means that the fate of the outcome stands in dispute. Taking into account all those figures, the irregularities observed undermine the electoral process fundamentally. It is for that reason that I order a by-election,” the judge said to applause from Kivuti’s supporters, who jammed the Embu-Meru highway in celebration.

Wambora, who is serving his second term after a tumultuous first term where he was impeached twice but was reinstated by the court, is tagged as the proverbial governor with nine lives.

His lead counsel, Ahmednasir Abdullahi, has filed a notice of appeal, saying the ruling was lacking in law and consideration of factual evidence submitted by the defence.

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In Nairobi, the High Court upheld the election of Rashid Kassim Amin of Wiper Party as MP of Wajir East.

Justice James Wakiaga, while delivering the judgement, said the petitioner, Mohamud Sheikh, failed to prove his allegations that voters were misled and that there was technology failure during voting.

Justice Wakiaga said Mohamud's claims that results were announced without forms 35A from six polling stations could not stand because there was no evidence. The court also found no basis on the claims that voting went on even after voting hours.

Wakiaga ordered the petitioner to pay Sh3 million as costs of the petition. 

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