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Senior Counsel Fred Ngatia apologises after he is caught whispering in court

 Senior counsel Fred Ngatia during the Pre-trial conference on presidential election petition at the Supreme Court on August 30, 2022 [Standard]

Calm, banter, regular laughter and clarification quests filled the Supreme Court on Tuesday during the pre-trial conference for the presidential election petition filed by Azimio la Umoja leader Raila Odinga and six others.

At the start of the conference, Chief Justice Martha Koome clarified that the petitions would be consolidated into one as they raised similar issues.

Senior Counsel Fred Ngatia, who is representing the first respondent William Ruto, lamented about the number of lawyers the petitioners had compared to respondents.

"There are 16 counsels against the nullification of one person, who you have limited to four lawyers. It will be difficult for me to put up a defense against all the 18 lawyers when all we have is a team of four," he noted.

Lawyer Tom Ojienda, who is representing petitioner Okiya Omtatah, was quick to respond to Ngatia, telling him to concede defeat if the lawyers were too many for his team.

"If my learned friend [Fred Ngatia] thinks there are too many petitions, they can concede," Ojienda said.

Still during the pre-trial, Ngatia was forced to apologise after he was caught whispering in court, disrupting Chief Justice Martha Koome who was addressing another advocate.

Supreme Court Judge Smokin Wanjala reprimanded Ngatia and asked him to conduct himself with decorum.

"Mr Ngatia, as senior counsel, you ought to know how to conduct yourself," Wanjala said.

Ngatia, however, quickly apologised and explained that he was consulting a learned friend on a matter.

"May I apologise to my Lord, Supreme Court Judge and thank you for reminding me yet again. I am sorry. The whisper was not meant for the court but to learned Counsel," he said.

Azimio la Umoja's Raila Odinga and Martha Karua are the primary petitioners and have been allocated three hours to defend their case while supporting petitioners will each get 30 minutes.

The main respondents, Kenya Kwanza's William Ruto, Rigathi Gachagua, IEBC, and Chair Wafula Chebukati have also been allocated 3 hours each, while the dissenting commissioners have been granted one hour each. The Attorney General will get 30 minutes.

At the sidelines of the pre-trial, an activist, Julius Kamau, was evicted from supreme court after illegally accessing the media centre.

Kamau said he wanted to be enjoined in the presidential petition.

"We must open our eyes and see that we are slaves in our own country. We must fight for equality, justice and freedom," Kamau could be heard shouting.

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