Wajir governor election contest was not free and fair, court told

Justice Daniel Ogembo presides over the swearing in of Wajir Governor Ahmed Abdullahi at Wajir Stadium. [File, Standard]

Witnesses have told an election court that the contest between Governor Ahmed Abdullahi and Dr Mohamed Hassan was marred by irregularities and illegalities.

According to a senatorial candidate in the August election, Mr Ibrahim Mohamud, a large number of voters who cast their ballots were not identified using the Kenya Integrated Management System (KIEMS) kits. He claimed that there were widespread reports of voters being issued double ballots.

Ibrahim, who was the first witness to testify in Dr Hassan’s favour, claimed that voters in Arbajahan and Hadado or Athibohole wards cast their ballots without being identified by the kits. He said these were the strongholds of governor Abdullahi.

The second witness, Ahmed Bashir, a parliamentary aspirant, told Justice George Dulu that there had been incidents of violence on the eve of election day, which he claimed was meant to suppress Dr Hassan's votes.

Others who have backed Dr Hassan’s bid to have the new governor’s win overturned are Mohamed Yaqub, who was a tallying centre agent on August 9, Farhan Abdi, a Jubilee Party chief agent, Adan Ibrahim who was an agent of a Member of County Assembly at Quara Ward and Abdullahi Mohamed, who was an agent in Faryar centre.

Others are Abdirahman Adan, Guliye Khalif, Maash Abdi, Ahmed Nur and Osman Khalif.

Maash, who testified on the fifth day of the hearing, told the court that he was Dr Hassan's agent and that voting started very late at 11.30am and ended at 5pm. Thereafter, the court heard, voters were ejected from polling stations.

Dr Hassan, who was the runner-up in the Wajir gubernatorial election, is the petitioner challenging governor Abdullahi’s win.

He claims that the gubernatorial election was not conducted in accordance with the Constitution and Elections Act, and that the results -- which showed Abdullahi had won the election with 35,533 votes against Dr Hassan's 27,224 -- was fraudulent.

The petitioner claims that there was violence in Wajir East on the eve of election day, which was "deliberately orchestrated to ensure that the voter turnout was low".

“The attacks started a day before elections and abruptly stopped thereafter. This hindered voting and led to polling stations being opened late and closed early,” said Dr Hassan in the case.

The petitioner added that the postponed elections in Eldas Constituency also affected the outcome since voters were misled into believing that the governor, who hails from the constituency, was the front-runner and favourite to win.

“The petitioner submits that the flaws and irregularities that characterised the elections unlawfully subverted the sovereign will of the Wajir County electorate,” he said.

The petitioner claims that there was intimidation and misinformation, discrepancies in the results and declaration forms, and illegalities and irregularities, including that voters were supervised to cast their ballots.

On the other hand, the governor argues that he won fair and square. According to him, the petitioner has no valid case other than claims that cannot be validated.

He said the election reflected the will of the Wajir people, and was a result of peaceful polls countrywide.

In his reply seeking to have Dr Hassan's case dismissed, Abdullahi argues that the election was transparent and that the electoral agency IEBC was neutral, efficient and accurate in its tabulation.