Blow to Reuben Kigame as Appeal Court suspends orders to be considered for clearance

Presidential aspirant Reuben Kigame. [Boniface Okendo, Standard]

Gospel singer Reuben Kigame has suffered a setback after the Court of Appeal temporarily suspended a High Court order directing the electoral agency to consider his academic papers and collected signatures.

A three-judge bench composed of Justices Wanjiru Karanja, Francis Tuiyott and Hellen Omondi suspended the execution of Justice Anthony Mrima’s orders until Monday noon when they will hear the appeal by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC).

The judges issued the orders after Kigame’s lawyer Dr. John Khaminwa informed them that he had not received the filed appeal papers.

Although IEBC’s lawyer Eric Gumbo said that he had served the senior advocate, the court directed that he re-serves him before the close of business today to allow Kigame to reply before Sunday.

Initially, Dr. Khaminwa had asked the court to adjourn the case in a bid to allow his client to meet Chebukati on Friday.

“He has been given an appointment by Wafula Chebukati at 11 o’clock, by Chebukati himself. We can wait for the outcome,” said Khaminwa.

Ngumbo opposed saying that there was no nexus between the meeting and the appeal by the commission.

“These proceedings are in relation to judgment and there is no reason whatsoever we should wait for the outcome of the meeting. With respect, senior counsel is seeking to derail the meeting,” he replied.

In the case, IEBC argued that Justice Mrima erred by ordering it to consider the signatures collected by Kigame. According to IEBC, the judge created a special category to consider a candidate that does not exist in law.

“The learned Judge of the High Court erred in law by finding that the Appellants had a constitutional obligation to provide reprieve or exception to the Respondent on account of his disability whilst the Learned Judge had already found that there is no specific legal requirement for differential treatment of persons for any reason in the nomination and registration for presidential elections in Kenya,” the commission said in its appeal papers.

According to the commission, the orders meant Kenyans will have to pay Sh 971 million to re-print new ballot papers. At the same time, it argued, the effect of the judgment will to delay the election as the money required can only be disbursed after 30 days.

“The learned Judge erred in disregarding public interest in so far as the Judgment if complied with is likely to impede compliance with constitutional timelines on holding of elections and thereby precipitate a constitutional crisis of monumental proportions,” it argued.

Kigame in his case accused the electoral commission of bias and unfairness.

He argued that the commission had extended the time for presidential candidates to table their signatures and at least 2,000 copies of voters' identification cards from majority counties only for it to allegedly reject his.

The singer argued that IEBC was unfair to disabled persons, as it has not developed regulations to assist persons with disability.

“The petitioner has worked hard and has met all the requirements set in the presidential aspirant’s checklist, only to be barred from presenting the said booklets that have cost him time and a lot of resources. IEBC failed to grant the petitioner access materials and devices to overcome constraints arising from his disability as required by the constitution,” he said.

According to his lawyer John Khaminwa, Mr. Kigame attended the pre-nomination meeting for presidential candidates.

IEBC chairman agreed to add presidential aspirants two more days to have their signatures and copies of IDs in order. This was on May 23.

Six days later, Mr Kigame said, he presented his signatures at the Bomas of Kenya, but the commission declined to receive them.

“Shockingly, the petitioner’s materials were not received,” said Mr Khaminwa.