Expelled ODM lawmakers want tribunal to overturn the decision

President William Ruto when he met a section of MPs from Nyanza at State House, Nairobi, on July 5, 2023. The MPs present were Gideon Ochanda (Bondo), Tom Ojienda (Kisumu senator), Caroli Omondi (Suba South), Elisha Odhiambo (Gem) and Mark Nyamita (Uriri). Others were Paul Abuor (Rongo) and Felix 'Jalang’o' Odiwuor (Lang’ata). The meeting was also attended by ICT Cabinet Secretary Eliud Owalo and Interior PS Raymond Omollo. [File, Standard]

Five MPs kicked out by ODM last week have moved to the Political Parties Dispute Tribunal in Kisumu to challenge their expulsion from the party.

They have blamed their expulsion on their association with President William Ruto.

The lawmakers Felix Odiwour, alias Jalang’o, of Lang’ata, Kisumu Senator Tom Ojienda, Gem MP Elisha Odhiambo, Suba South's Caroli Omondi, and Gideon Ochanda of Bondo constituency filed individual motions with the tribunal on Monday seeking to overturn the party’s decision.

They are seeking conservatory orders to stop ODM from implementing their expulsion fearing they may lose their seats. They have also sought orders to block their removal from committees of parliament.

The MPs have listed several grounds they are banking on to reverse ODM’s decision and have lined up a battery of lawyers to defend them.

In his motion, Ojienda has poked holes in the process of his dismissal claiming he was unlawfully and unfairly targeted by the party.

In the 205-page document, the senator has taken the battle to ODM leader Raila Odinga’s doorstep and has attached newspaper articles indicating alleged meetings between ODM leader Raila Odinga and President Ruto as part of his evidence.

The senator believes his association with President Ruto is the genesis of his problems with the party.

Azimio La Umoja One Kenya Alliance leader Raila Odinga addressing residents of Magena in Bomachoge Borabu, Kisii County, on Sunday, September 10, 2023. [Sammy Omingo, Standard]

He has sought nine orders, among them, an order restraining the party from removing him from the County Public Investments Committee and the Security Committee of the Senate.

According to Ojienda, he is a life member of the party and has supported the party financially and materially, and does not therefore deserve to be kicked out.

“Sometime on July 25, 2023, I was subjected to a fundamentally flawed and pre-determined disciplinary process,” said Ojienda.

The senator said he only learnt about the decision to expel him through a press conference and is yet to receive any formal communication regarding the decision the party took from July 25, 2023.

He claimed the decision to expel him from the party violated several articles of the constitution.

Ojienda claims he risks losing his seat if his name is expunged Register and claims that the harm he is likely to suffer cannot be compensated through damages.

Odhiambo, the Gem MP, wants the tribunal to issue temporary orders barring ODM from expelling him from three committees of the national assembly.

He is banking on 14 grounds to overturn ODM’s decision.

According to the legislator, he met President Ruto and his deputy Rigathi Gachagua in his capacity as an MP and should not be punished for that.

The MP argues that his meeting with the president is among the reasons the party targeted him. In his motion, Odhiambo says the meeting was not political.

Kisumu Senator Tom Ojienda during the Senate Public Investments and Special Funds Committee meeting at parliament on July 31, 2023. [Boniface Okendo, Standard]

He claimed he was removed from the party’s WhatsApp group of Luo Nyanza MPs where all communication regarding the party is channeled.

In his suit, Ochanda has described his expulsion as shocking and claims he was not given a chance to be heard. He said he was not also given any official communication regarding the decision to expel him from ODM.

Last week, ODM expelled the lawmakers over allegations of gross misconduct.

The five faced charges of violating the party constitution by contravening the Political Parties Act, which stipulates that a member who promotes the ideology of another is deemed to have resigned from the said party.

The party also resolved to revoke the nominations of four Kisumu MCAs.

The MPs also claimed they were not aware of the party's position in regards to the voting on the Finance Act, 2023 after the party stopped communicating with them.