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Cheers and jeers greet appellate court’s rejection of BBI process

By Standard Team | August 22nd 2021

MPs Junet Mohamed, Aden Duale and COTU Secretary- General Francis Atwoli. [File, Standard]

Leaders across the country have expressed mixed reactions after the Court of Appeal on Friday declared the Building Bridges Initiative unconstitutional.

The debate seemed to continue being between supporters of President Uhuru Kenyatta and his BBI partner Raila Odinga, on one hand, and the allies of Deputy President William Ruto on the other.

“I had warned them but they did not listen. The process was surrounded by hubris and chest-thumping, which made actors ignore its fundamental flaws. The president should sack his advisors who misled him,” said Murang'a Senator Irungu Kangata.

Garissa Town MP Aden Duale said that the judgement was historic. "The seven-judge Bench of the Court of Appeal has reaffirmed that the sovereignty of the will of the people cannot be taken away by any person, be it the political elite, Parliament, or even the president. The Constitution was made by Wanjiku and it is hence for Wanjiku and its basic structure can only be changed by Wanjiku," he said.

Gatundu South MP Moses Kuria kept his social media accounts aflame the whole day with comments.

“It’s winning for Wanjiku since President Uhuru Kenyatta and his handshake partner Raila Odinga sought to mutilate the Constitution for the sake of political power-sharing for next year’s General Election. It is a lesson for State that when they seek to circumvent the law, Kenyans can seek remedy in courts,” Kuria said at the end of the day.

Kiharu MP Ndindi Nyoro yesterday said the BBI was conmanship and that the court's decision confirmed the will of the people.  But the Uhuru-Raila allies were predictably gloomy.

“Kenya will go on. BBI meant well but we must respect the constitutional legitimacy of the courts and find other legitimate means to achieve Kenya’s unity and prosperity. For some of us, it is time for serious introspection on the political way forward,” said Kirinyaga Governor Anne Waiguru.

North Imenti MP Rahim Dawood blamed the president’s advisers for the fate suffered by BBI. 

“People let Uhuru down in a big way on this well-intentioned bid to reform the Constitution for posterity. Had they given him water-tight advice, it shouldn’t have come to this. In my view the president needs to crack a whip in some quarters,” said Dawood.

Cotu Secretary General Francis Atwoli said BBI was supposed to deal with inclusivity, adding that this was out of the honest observation that Kenya is a highly tribal society and elections are much or less a tribal contestation.

Mt Kenya MCAs caucus chairman Charles Mwangi said: "The choice of a running mate will be a major headache to the leading presidential aspirants and a major blow to the ongoing One Kenya Alliance (OKA) who depended on the Court of Appeal to conduct a power-sharing scheme. The case should proceed to the Supreme Court.” 

Nakuru Governor Lee Kinyanjui said that the judgement delivered by the seven-judge Bench was a demonstration of its independence.

“We respect the judgement by the Court of Appeal and applaud its demonstration of respect for the rule of law in the country,” said Kinyanjui.

The governor, who has been spearheading peace initiatives in the county and Central Rift region, said the Judiciary has set an example on the continent.

“Kenya’s judicial system has taken the country to another level. This kind of judgement sets us apart from other countries on the roles of different arms of government,” said Kinyanjui.

ODM leaders say their agenda is to have Raila ascend to power despite the court ruling. Suna East MP Junet Mohamed, who was also the chair of the BBI Secretariat, said their lawyers will have to advise on the way forward. “There were many appellants in the matter. Raila was one of them and he has made his decision.”

“Amendment of the Constitution will not end with BBI. We never saw it anywhere that we were supposed to do civic education; what we did was to have a signature collection take the Bill to the County Assemblies and in parliament.”

Borabu MP Ben Momanyi said that the country has lost the opportunity of increasing funding to counties to at least 35 per cent, fixing governance, among other things.

“Let’s now focus ahead. The BBI Bill was going to improve a number of things in the country, no doubt about that. Because it’s now over, I urge Abagusii to find a way of working together so that we can get a fair share of the national cake.”

According to the Nominated MP Denitah Ghati, they have accepted the ruling and will move on. “The ruling will not stop Raila from expressing his best interest for the country. The intention of BBI was good.”

Migori Woman Representative Pamela Odhiambo said they will accept the ruling and turn their focus on drumming up support for Raila.

“Kenyans will live to regret these decisions from the courts. Very serious implications. Statements like IEBC has been unconstitutional since 2018 does not sound well for the Country.”

Lugari MP Ayub Savula said the promoters of BBI need to be surcharged.

"The Auditor-General needs to find out how much was spent in order for them to pay back taxpayers’ money,’’ said Savula.

Federation of Evangelical and Indigenous Christian Churches of Kenya (FEICCK) chairman Bishop Samuel Njiriri welcomed the verdict, saying the church had been vindicated by the courts.

“The promoters of the BBI ignored the warning by the church that the constitutional reform initiative was unnecessary. The church has just like in 2010 been very consistent in reforming the Constitution and the politicians have been very consistent in ignoring the church,” said Njiriri.

For Mathias Robi, Kuria West MP, they had foreseen the failure of BBI. “We knew it would fail, and that is why we also rejected it in parliament. Reggae has stopped,” Mr Robi said.

His Kuria East MP Marwa Kitayama noted that despite the BBI being rejected by the Court of Appeal, everyone has won regardless of the verdict.

[Wainaina Ndung’u and Ndung’u Gachane, Kennedy Gachuhi and Bradley Sikolia, Anne Atieno, Edwin Nyarangi and Eric Abuga]

Download the BBI Judgement by all seven Judges - Civil Appeal No. E291 of 2021
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