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Court recalls witness for ‘concealing’ vital evidence

POLITICS
By By RENSON BULUMA | August 7th 2013
Funyula MP Paul Otuoma (right) and constituency returning officer Samson Ojiem during the hearing of a petition seeking the nullification of Otuoma’s election at the High Court in Busia, Tuesday. [PHOTO: RENSON BULUMA/STANDARD]

By RENSON BULUMA

Kenya: A witness who had earlier testified in a petition challenging the election of Funyula MP Paul Otuoma was recalled for cross-examination following reports that he concealed vital information from the court.

Funyula returning officer Samson Ojiem’s credibility was put to question after lawyer Alex Masika, representing petitioner John Nagafwa, accused him of not telling the truth regarding allegations of violence that occurred in Funyula during the electioneering period.

The claims follow reports in a document signed by Ojiem and in the possession of the petitioner, indicating that people fought during a United Democratic Front (UDF) meeting held at one of the aspirant’s homes where a supporter was injured.

Earlier in his testimony, Ojiem had refuted claims that the poll was marred by violence and this was supported by Sio Port OCS Fredrick Simiyu.

But Nagafwa’s lawyer, who filled an application to have the witness recalled sought to prove to the court that Ojiem may have deliberately declined to provide information that would help determine the case after reading the document.

“This document proves that there was violence during the election and that you did not tell this honourable court the truth,” said Masika.

However, the witness told High Court judge Francis Tuiyott that the lawyer would not allow him to explain some points during earlier cross-examination.

Ojiem said his testimony was only based on the accusations levelled against him in the affidavit.

 “I only responded to what I was accused of, not what was not before the court. Besides, you are the same person who could not allow me to explain some points and here you are accusing me of not telling the court everything,” said Ojiem who was the last witness in the petition. He maintained that Otuoma’s election was free and fair.

Siaya Senator James Orengo who is representing Otuoma, however, accused the petitioner’s side of being unfair to the witness.

He said the alleged violence was perpetrated by UDF supporters and aspirants, adding that one of the persons (Wilberforce Oundo) mentioned in the document had appeared before the court as a witness.

“Mr Oundo appeared here as a witness and he never mentioned the said incident which happened long before Election Day,” said Orengo.

The petitioner has alleged various election malpractices  in the March 4 exercise.

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