Court of Appeal ruling locks out Kigame from presidential race

Presidential aspirant Reuben Kigame displayed his symbol certificate as he addressed the media at Cedar Groove Estate in Kasarani. [Boniface Okendo, Standard]

The Court of Appeal has sealed gospel artist Reuben Kigame’s fate after declining to lift orders issued last week in favour of Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC).

After hearing arguments yesterday, Justices Wanjiru Karanja, Francis Tuiyott and Hellen Omondi ruled that they were satisfied that IEBC had persuaded them that there is a likelihood of the August 9 presidential election being postponed if Kigame is allowed to be on the ballot.

The judges were of the view that the commission had also convinced them that it had a case even if a judge could order a consideration of a candidate with less than the required 48,000 signatures even when not provided by the Constitution.

"We had no difficulty in finding that the appeal is arguable particularly on whether the learned judge can on judicial edict amend the Constitution. We also considered the financial implication and if the election were to be postponed, the effect to the country. The Application is for allowing,” said Justice Karanja who read the ruling on behalf of the bench.

She said that the court will hand a detailed verdict on Friday. In the case, IEBC said it may be forced to push forward elections if it has to include Kigame on the presidential ballot paper.

At the same time, IEBC argued that it will spend an additional Sh971 million to reprint the ballot papers and reconfigure 55,650 Kiems kits.

In its appeal against the High Court decision requiring it to reconsider Kigame’s academic papers and collected signatures, the agency faulted Justice Anthony Mrima, saying he (Kigame) only submitted 1,013 signatures against the required 48,000.

“The list of supporters referred by the court has not been presented to the commission nor has it been analysed to determine whether the listed nominating supporters meet the prescribed numbers and are registered voters as required,” said the Wafula Chebukati-led commission.

According to IEBC commission, it is impossible to effect the changes because the required money can only be available after 30 days, yet the polls are only 13 days away.

Justice Mrima said there is need for the Parliament to enact a law that enables persons with disabilities to fully participate in politics.

The judge however rejected Kigame’s prayer to compel IEBC to have him on the ballot. He said, this would amount to overstretching the court’s mandate. Justice Mrima said it is only IEBC that can decide whether he will be on the ballot or not.

“This court is satisfied that on account of disability and the effort by the petitioner and the signatures collected and are with the respondent. The petitioner shall not be disqualified on the basis of the signatures,” said the judge.

Kigame had accused the electoral commission of bias and unfairness. He argued that the commission had extended time for presidential candidates to table their signatures and at least 2,000 copies of voters identification cards from majority counties only for it to allegedly reject his.

The gospel singer argued that IEBC was unfair to disabled persons as it has not developed regulations to assist persons with disability.

“The petitioner has worked hard and has met all the requirements set in the presidential aspirant’s checklist, only to be barred from presenting the said booklets that have cost him time and a lot of resources. IEBC failed to grant the petitioner access materials and devices to overcome constraints arising from his disability as required by the constitution,” he said.

According to lawyer John Khaminwa, Kigame attended the pre-nomination meeting for presidential candidates.

IEBC chairman agreed to add presidential aspirants two more days to have their signatures and copies of IDs in order. This was on May 23.

Six days later, Kigame said, he presented his signatures at the Bomas of Kenya but the commission declined to receive them.

“Shockingly, the petitioner’s materials were not received,” said Khaminwa.