Candidates punished for illegal use of Uhuru Kenyatta and Raila Odinga portraits
By Moses Nyamori
| July 21st 2017
A host of independent candidates have incurred losses running into millions of shillings for associating themselves with President Uhuru Kenyatta and opposition presidential candidate Raila Odinga in their campaigns.
The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission Thursday slapped fines on some of them - as high as Sh500,000 - for in-setting Uhuru and Raila’s portraits in their posters, banners, and billboards.
IEBC’s Electoral Code of Conduct Committee ordered Vihiga Governor Moses Akaranga and Laikipia governorship independent candidate Ndiritu Muriithi to pay a fine of Sh500,000 each for using Raila and Uhuru’s portraits respectively in their campaign materials.
Mr Akaranga is contesting under his Progressive Party of Kenya banner using the National Super Alliance (NASA) colours and symbols as well as its leader’s portraits, citing his ‘close working relationship’ with the coalition.
“By his own admission, the accused has been using NASA colours and symbols as well as portraits of the coalition’s leaders in his posters and billboards. Progressive Party of Kenya is not a member of NASA. It is, therefore, in breach of code of conduct for the accused to try to associate himself with the coalition,” ruled the committee sitting in Nairobi at KICC.
Kasarani MP John Njoroge, who is defending his seat as an independent candidate after losing in the Jubilee Party primaries, was fined Sh250,000 over symbols and portrait of Uhuru.
Kiambaa parliamentary independent candidate Kariri Njama suffered the same fate after he was ordered to pay a Sh200,000 fine and remove all materials infringing on Jubilee Party symbols.
Also punished was Julius Taitumu, who is running for the Igembe North MP seat. Mr Taitumu was dragged to the team chaired by Wafula Chebukati by Jubilee candidate Richard Maoka Maore.
The committee further fined Ekalakala ward candidate Ken Makali Sh100,000 for posting fabricated maligning photographs of his opponent, Joshua Mbithi.
Nkaimurunya ward independent candidate Omwonyo Maraga also suffered the same blow for using NASA symbols although he had resigned from Raila’s Orange Democratic Movement after losing in the nominations.
Uhuru and Raila enjoy fanatical support in their bastions and associating with them is seen as political capital for candidates seeking seats in their respective areas.
This has made Jubilee and NASA candidates to jealously guard any association with the two front-runners from their opponents.
While lodging their complaints before the committee, the candidates of the two main parties accused the independents of denying them endorsement from their respective party leaders.
They likened it to political blackmail by individual’s hell bent on benefiting from parties they quit after losing in nominations.
A case against Senator Elizabeth Ongoro and Ruaraka MP TJ Kajwang, who were accused jointly by an opponent in the race for the seat, Allan Masika, was, however, dismissed.
Mr Masika had petitioned IEBC to punish the two rival candidates under the NASA affiliate parties of ODM and Amani National Congress (ANC) for defacing his campaign materials.
The committee said it was not convinced by the evidence presented before it.
And apart from the fines, the candidates have been ordered to bring down all the infringing materials.
This means the candidates will have to design and print fresh posters, banners, and billboards, which are costly.
Coming less than three weeks to the August 8 polls, this latest blow against the candidates - who have been in trouble with party candidates, means they will have to dig deeper into their pockets.
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