SECTIONS

Wajir Governor Ahmed Abdullahi fights for survival as poll petition begins

Justice Daniel Ogembo presides over the swearing-in of Wajir Governor  Ahmed Abdullahi at Wajir Stadium on August 25, 2022.

Wajir Governor Ahmed Abdullahi began the fight for survival as the High Court in Nairobi began hearing an election petition challenging his victory.

The hearing started with a witness, Ibrahim Mohamud Sheikh, narrating how there were widespread electoral malpractices that compromised the integrity of the governor election during the August 9 polls.

“Voting in Wajir County started well in the morning until in the afternoon when everything went wrong. The electronic voting materials failed while in some centres people were allowed to vote more than once,” he said.

As a result of the discrepancies, Mohamud who also contested but lost the Wajir senatorial seat said the elections were not free and fair and that Abdullahi was not validly elected as governor.

He told Justice George Dulu that election in all the elective seats in Wajir were marred by irregularities including the senatorial seat but decided not to file a petition to challenge the outcome because he did not have the resources.

He told the court that he decided to support Dr Hassan Mohamed who is challenging Abdullahi’s win and denied claims that he had been paid to fight the governor.

“I do not have any historical differences with the governor but I swore an affidavit to tell the malpractices which took place. Our agents documented the malpractices and told us how double voting was taking place in certain polling centres after the electronic gadgets failed,” said Mohamud.

Dr Mohamed, who was the runner-up in the Wajir gubernatorial election, is the petitioner challenging governor Abdullahi’s win.

He alleges that the governor election was not conducted in accordance with the Constitution and Elections Act and that the results which showed Abdullahi won the election with 35,533 votes against his tally of 27,224 was fraudulent.

According to the petitioner, there was violence in Wajir East on the eve of the elections which was deliberately orchestrated to ensure that the voter turnout was low.

“The attacks started a day before elections and abruptly stopped after. This hindered voting and led to polling stations being opened late and closed early,” said Mohamed.

The petitioner added that the postponed elections in Eldas Constituency also affected the outcome since voters were misled to believe that the governor who hails from the constituency was the frontrunner and favourite to win the seat.

Hearing continues on Tuesday, November 15.