IEBC violated former county chief's right, court says

Former Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko (centre). [[David Gichuru, Standard]

Former Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko yesterday got a reprieve after the High Court in Mombasa ordered the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) to clear him to vie for Mombasa governor seat.

“An order of mandamus is hereby issued against the IEBC to accept the nomination as submitted by Sonko for position of Mombasa Governor seat,” said Justices Olga Sewe, Ann Ong’injo and Stephen Githinji.

The judges quashed the decision by IEBC, Dispute Resolution Committee and Returning Officer that failed to clear Sonko for the Mombasa Governor seat. Yesterday, the bench said IEBC, Mombasa County Returning Officer Yusuf Swalha and IEBC’ Dispute Resolution Committee acted unreasonably, illogically and unfairly by rejecting Sonko’s degree that was certified by a commissioner of oath.

Quash the decision

“Order of certiorari is hereby issued to quash the decision of IEBC, Returning Officer and the Dispute Resolution Committee to disqualify Sonko for the position of Mombasa County governor seat,” said Justice Sewe. The bench said IEBC violated Sonko’s rights in Article 3, 20, 38 and 47 of the Constitution.

The judges faulted IEBC, Mr Swalha and the Dispute Resolution Committee for failing to clear Sonko after he failed to present his copy of degree certificate within the gazetted time of 4pm and on grounds that he was impeached and unfit to run for public office.

Yesterday there were celebrations at the Mombasa law courts and out in the streets minutes after the judges ordered IEBC to allow Sonko to be in the ballot. Justice Sewe said Sonko was eligible under Article 180, sub-Section 2A, as read with Article 193 (3) of the Constitution, to vie as a candidate of Mombasa County governor seat.

The judge faulted Mr Swalha and IEBC for demanding that Sonko produces a copy of a certified degree from the institution of issue, yet he had produced his original degree certificate within the set deadline of 4pm.

The judge said IEBC’s failure to qualify Sonko for failing to present a copy of a certified degree from Methodist University was in violation of Article 3, 10, 249 and 159. 

Justice Githinji said Sonko presented the papers within time and IEBC wouldn’t have suffered any disadvantage by extending him time to present the required papers.

He said Sonko endeavoured to comply with IEBC’s requirement the next day within set timeline. “The evidence is he didn’t have the certified copy at the time but he tried and forwarded a copy by 16:03 and the certified copy of the degree from the institution by 16:42 June 2022.”