Court clears way for party hopping case against governor


Isiolo Governor Abdi Guyo when he appeared before the Senate County Public Investment Committee at KICC, Nairobi on October 2, 2023 to responding on the audit queries. [Boniface Okendo, Standard]

Isiolo Governor Abdi Guyo could lose his seat for decamping to the ruling United Democratic Alliance (UDA), which would make him the first to do so. 

This is after three judges yesterday declined to strike out a case questioning Guyo’s move from the Jubilee Party, which was his election vehicle.

Justices John Chigiti, Jairus Ngaah and Lawrence Mugambi unanimously said that the case filed against Guyo and his deputy John Lowasa has to be heard in full to determine if they violated the Constitution.

Others who were sued are the Registrar of Political Parties, Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission and Attorney General Justin Muturi.

Guyo and Lowasa, in their objection, had claimed that the petitioners - Guyo Guracha, Mohamed Wario, Teddy Muturi and Stephen Kihonge - were seeking for their removal from office through the back door.

However, the court ruled that the claim could not be founded as it was only after the judgment that the four can now go after them.

“We think the 1st and 2nd respondents' apprehension that the petitioners are seeking their removal from the office in this petition is misplaced. We are also of the humble opinion that the argument that this honourable court is deficient of jurisdiction to dispose of this petition on the ground that the petition seeks the removal of a governor and his deputy is premature and, at best, misconceived,” the bench headed by Justice Ngaah ruled.

The judges agreed with Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Coalition Party.

At the same time, the court dismissed the second argument that the case should have first been heard by the Political Parties Dispute Tribunal (PPDT). 

According to the judges, the case was not about disputes between parties and their members.

Instead, it was centred on violation of the Constitution by alleged claims of flip flopping.

They were of the view that Guyo and Lowasa will have to convince the court why they should not be barred from moving from Jubilee to UDA.

“The burden would be upon the 1st and 2nd respondents to convince the Court, at the hearing of the petition, that contrary to the petitioners' position that an injunction against the 1st and 2nd respondents is a plausible relief, it is, in law, in particular, under the Constitution, not a viable remedy to the petitioners' grievances,” they observed.

In the case, the petitioners through lawyer Kibe Mungai want the court to find that Guyo and his deputy ought to have resigned, paving way for a by-election.