Charity Ngilu locks media out of IEBC registration hall as she is cleared to defend seat

Kitui Governor Charity Ngilu during a past interview with The Standard. [Esther Jeruto, Standard]

Kitui Governor Charity Ngilu was today (Monday, June 6)) cleared by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission, ending months-long speculation that she was not interested in defending her seat.

However, her clearance at Kitui Multi-Purpose Hall was not without drama. As soon as she arrived, Ngilu demanded that the media be locked out of the registration hall, saying she did not want any photos or videos taken.

Her bodyguard manned the entrance to ensure no journalist accessed the room where she was being cleared alongside her deputy running mate, Wathe Nzau.

According to the County Returning Officer Macharia Gichichi, the governor told them she was in a rush to join Azimio la Umoja One Kenya coalition chief Raila Odinga in Nairobi and asked that the exercise be rushed.

After she was cleared to defend the seat on her Narc ticket, Ngilu declined to address the media saying she was in a hurry to join Raila for the launch of his manifesto.

And just like that, she hopped into her official vehicle that sped off towards Ithookwe airstrip in the outskirts of Kitui town where a chopper was on standby.

It was not clear why Ngilu opted to have her IEBC clearance in secrecy. Her deputy Dr Nzau declined to discuss the matter.

There has been speculation that the governor is not keen on defending her seat. This is because Ngilu has not been campaigning in the county choosing instead to channel her energies on Azimio campaigns.

Before Ngilu, former Kitui Governor Dr Julius Malombe was cleared in his bid to recapture the seat he lost in 2017.

Malombe's IEBC clearance followed his nomination by the Wiper party on Sunday during party primaries pitting him against former Kenyan ambassador to Uganda Kiema Kilonzo. 

His initial direct ticket was nullified by the High Court last Friday following a petition filed by Kilonzo. The court gave the party 72 hours to carry out fresh nominations.