Can’t pay, won’t pay, says Butere politician slapped with Sh7m petition fees

Habil Bushuru Nanjendo at his farm in Ituti village, Butere. December 16, 2019. [Benjamin Sakwa, Standard]

Years after their double victory, most politicians in Western are still waiting to be paid the cost they incurred in defending themselves against election petitions.

For instance, Habil Nanjendo Bushuru who challenged the validity of the election of Butere MP after losing narrowly to Tindi Mwale confirmed that he has not paid Sh7 million he was ordered to pay the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) and his rival after he lost the petition.

Statistics from IEBC show Mr Nanjendo garnered 14,688 votes against Mwale’s 18,235, but the former MCA for Marama North felt the figures did not capture the exact votes he got.

The Butere politician regrets that he used a lot of money to pay lawyers for the petition.

“People say that I have been auctioned over the same but that is not the case. My opponent has not bothered to ask me to pay up, even IEBC and its returning officer have not made any claim. I have been waiting, if anything, I am prepared to take the matter to the Court of Appeal and Supreme Court, if push comes to shove,” said Nanjendo.

Bushuru, who will be running for the same seat in August, argues that the costs slapped on petitioners are often exorbitant and deter people from going to court for justice.

He says he had a “watertight case” against Mr Mwale but after suffering the costs, “I will think twice before filing another election petition.”

He had argued that the election of Mwale went against the Elections Act, 2011, and the provisions of the IEBC Act and, as a result, the will of the people of Butere Constituency was compromised.

Nanjendo further said after he defeated Andrew Toboso in ODM nominations, Toboso who was the then sitting MP decided to go independent though he did not give up the use of the ODM brand, and that all his election materials, namely the caps, T-shirts, and banner, had the orange colour.

“This caused confusion among the voters as to whether it was him (Toboso) or me who was the ODM candidate,” he said in his affidavit.

In her judgment, the then Election Court judge Ruth Sitati said: “The evidence on record shows that the election was substantially conducted in compliance with the constitutional and statutory principles for elections. Nanjendo’s unproven allegations have strengthened IEBC’s as well as Mwale’s case that the petition had no basis.”

He was asked to pay IEBC Sh3.5 million and Mwale another Sh3.5 million.

And in March, last year, when former three-term Matungu MP David Aoko Were sued the IEBC, its returning officer John Kiplangat Kirui and his opponent Peter Nabulindo in that year’s by-polls, he expected nothing but victory.

The odds, however, went against the seasoned lawmaker as the court asked him to pay the parties he sued Sh3 million to cater for the cost of the case.

“I find that Were has not proved his case to the required standard, and I hereby dismiss the said petition with costs. The costs of the petition shall be capped at Sh3 million. Were will pay IEBC Sh2 million and Mr Kirui and MP Nabulindo Sh1 million,” ruled William Musyoka.

Mr Were had petitioned under a certificate urgency for the Kakamega court to nullify the election of Mr Nabulindo as Matungu MP, alleging it was marred by violence and irregularities.

He had scored 10,565 votes in the hotly contested by-poll against Nabulindo’s 14,257 votes.

Through his lawyers, former National Assembly Speaker Kenneth Marende and Dr Ken Nyaundi, Were also wanted the court to order Nabulindo, IEBC, and Kiplagat to meet the costs of the petition, a plea the court dismissed on September 27, 2021.