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Court nullifies election of Meru Governor Peter Munya

By By MURIMI MWANGI | Mar 13th 2014 | 3 min read
Peter Munya consults with the Nyeri County Commander Agnes Lihabi inside the Nyeri Court of Appeal Wednesday, moments before the court nullified his election as Meru Governor. [PHOTO: MOSE SAMMY/STANDARD]


Nyeri, Kenya: The Court of Appeal has nullified the election of Meru Governor Peter Munya.

Munya becomes the second governor to lose his seat through an election petition after his Siaya counterpart Cornel Rasanga. Rasanga was however re-elected in the subsequent by-election.

He was driven to Nyeri Law Courts in his official vehicle registration number GNV 012 complete with the pennant but after the ruling his aides removed the flag and he was forced to leave without the full honours of the governor after the court declined to stay the ruling until he moves to the Supreme Court.

As Munya came to terms with the loss, it was jubilation for the petitioner, Dickson Mwenda.

The ruling was music to the ears of former Assistant Minister Kilemi Mwiria, who narrowly lost to Munya during the March 4, 2013 general election.

Appellate judges Alnashir Visram, Jamila Mohammed and Otieno Odek termed Munya’s election null and void, citing various omissions in the High Court judgment that upheld Munya’s win last year.

The judges ruled that Meru High Court Judge Arron Makau—in his judgement dated September 23 2013—did not adequately interrogate the evidence on record, including that on tally discrepancies which emerged after a mini-recount targeting seven of 953 polling stations.

They faulted the judge for disregarding the 3,436 votes margin separation Munya and his closest rival Dr. Mwiria. They termed the margin as minor, representing 0.819 per cent of votes cast.

Vote discrepancies

This, they said, being less than one per cent, warranted a keener interrogation of the petitioner’s evidence on vote discrepancies.

“It is our considered view that it was the duty of the trial judge to evaluate the evidence and come to a conclusion,” said Justice Odek.

They noted that the High Court recount, reduced the initial gap by 360 votes, but the judge declined to order a recount across the county, as requested by the petitioner.

The Independent Electoral and Boundaries commission (IEBC), was also criticised by the judges for not giving adequate grounds upon which they found that the errors discovered were a result of “acceptable human error”.

“Due to multiplicity of the errors it is our conclusion that the second and third respondents raised human error as an excuse,” the judges ruled.

Justice Odek, while reading the judgment on behalf of his colleagues, said it was wrong for the High Court to place the burden of proof on the allegations of over voting on the petitioner, who was not the custodian of electoral materials.

Odek said it is the “constitutional and statutory responsibility” of the electoral body to furnish the court with the documents to prove the over-voting allegations—which IEBC did not.

IEBC was burdened with the suit costs at the High Court and Appellate Court amounting to Sh4 million.

Munya’s application for a seven-day stay of the court was thrown out.

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