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D-day as court rules on ballots scrutiny plea in Wajir petition

North Eastern
 Justice Daniel Ogembo presides over the swearing-in of Wajir Governor Ahmed Abdullahi. [File, Standard]

An election court will tomorrow decide whether it will allow an application for scrutiny of ballot boxes in the Wajir County gubernatorial contest.

Voters and parties in the case are waiting with bated breath to know on which side of the scale of justice will be tilting.

After hearing rival arguments from Dr Hassan Mohamed and Wajir Governor Ahmed Abdullahi, Justice George Dulu will rule whether the exercise will proceed or not.

In his application, Mohamed sought KIEMs kits registers from at least 26 polling stations to be produced for scrutiny before the court.

At the same time, he asked the court to order the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) to produce the materials used during the polling day for the court’s scrutiny. He has targeted at least 80 polling stations in the county.

In his application, Mohamed, who is former National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) CEO argued that the scrutiny will ascertain his claim that the August 9 gubernatorial contest was marred by irregularities and illegalities.

He also sought the KIEMs kits, logs, supervision validation form, ballot boxes, polling station notes, diaries used and original forms 32 A. According to him, the results shared by agents, mainly in Wajir West, Wajir East and Eldas, showed massive discrepancies.

“Evidently there are a number of alterations not countersigned on the Forms 37A in the column for votes counted, number of registered voters and votes tallied for the candidates. As a result of the alterations, the outcome is not accountable and cannot be verified,” he argued.

In the case, Mohamed asserted that he presented a strong case, and gave a blow-by-blow account of how Abdullahi and his agents allegedly used misinformation and intimidation to cause voter apathy in Eldas. He claimed that the governor capitalised on clan differences to clinch the top county job.

He said the governor visited numerous stations and informed voters that a candidate from Ogaden community was leading in five constituencies and he was the only one from Degodia community to beat him.

Clan dynamics

“Clan dynamics in Wajir County play an important role in voter mobilisation with a view to influence the decision by the voter since the residents identify with clans and their extended families… The first respondent through his agents, supporters used misinformation to cause fear and panic among voters in the petitioner’s strongholds,” claims Mohamed.

But the governor urged the court to dismiss the application. He argued that Mohamed’s prayers go outside what he had initially asked in his case. In the case, Mohamed claimed that votes were inflated to favour the current governor. According to him, the governor would not have emerged the winner if IEBC officials had conducted a transparent and verifiable election.

He alleged that at the commission results in Wajir East and Wajir West constituencies were marred with padding of votes, exaggeration of voter turnout.

According to him, some of the turnout announced by the commission was disproportionately higher when compared to the national average. He gave an example of Wajir West constituency, in which he claimed that IEBC declared that Abdullahi garnered almost 90 per cent of the votes cast. Eldas Deputy Returning narrated to court how lights were switched off and violence broke out leading to gunshots, sending everyone to scamper for safety on the night votes were being counted. It was her view that the violence was calculated to disadvantage one candidate.

While dismissing Mohamed’s claims, the governor argued that he never got any extra vote from the commission adding that the discrepancies cited in the case cannot tilt the scale to favour him.

Abdullahi asserts that the allegations are false. On one hand, Dr Mohamed who came second in the August 9 contest argued that Wajir voters were disenfranchised as Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) bungled the contest and declared his rival as the winner. On the other hand, the governor argued that the Wafula Chebukati-led agency did a good job as the county residents settled on who would lead them for the next five years.

The governor asserts that he emerged the best. Clan voting dynamics, posting of the election at Eldas Constituency after a gunfight and the tally form the crust of the battle. Both Mohamed and Abdullahi accuse each other of misinforming the voters along the clan lines for a win.

IEBC declared Abdullahi as the winner of the August 9, gubernatorial contest.

He garnered 35, 533 votes while Mohamed came in second with 27, 224 votes. Ahmed Ali Mukhtar came in third with 21,859 while Mohamed Ibrahim Elmi was fourth with 21.047.

Recount orders

The courts have recently granted recount and scrutiny in various petitions. In the petition against Homa Bay Governor Gladys Wanga, the High Court ordered a recount of votes in seven polling stations.

Justice Roselyne Aburili said the petitioner Evans Kidero had proved a prima facie case to warrant the recount of votes and scrutiny of forms 37As, 37Bs and 37Cs.

The court also granted orders for scrutiny and recount of votes in 10 polling stations in the petition against Busia Governor Paul Otuoma. High Court judge David Kenei ordered that voting diaries in the named stations be availed for scrutiny.

And in a petition by Paul Karembu and Judy Naiyeyio against Kajiado County Governor Joseph ole Lenku, the court granted recount. 


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