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Losers face costly petitions after blowing millions on campaigns

Former Kisumu governor Jack Ranguma (right) with James Orengo at a petition hearing in 2018. [Collins Oduor, Standard]

Many poll losers are planning to file election petitions - at great financial cost - to reverse political careers halted in one of the most bruising electoral contests in recent history.

This is based on the belief that the polls were marred with malpractices or rigged in favour of their opponents. While they are confident of getting justice from the courts, challenging election results could end up being an expensive gamble should they lose.

In the past, election petition losers have been slapped with hefty fines and legal fees that have seen some of them face the auctioneer’s hammer after failing to settle their debts.

In 2020, a court ordered that former Kisumu governor Jack Ranguma’s  property be auctioned following failure to settle the costs of an election petition amounting to Sh3.8 million in a case he had filed against Governor Anyang’ Nyong’o.

It remains to be seen whether Ranguma who once again failed to reclaim his seat after garnering 100,600 votes against Nyong’o’s 319,957 votes will challenge the loss in court.

Former Rarieda MP Nicholas Gumbo is familiar with this predicament.

After losing a poll petition he lodged to challenge retiring governor Cornel Rasanga’s 2017 reelection, he was ordered to pay Sh3 million. Gumbo who ran for Governor last week and lost to James Orengo declined to reveal his next plans.

Some voters have rued going to court on behalf of poll losers, too. In 2018, two voters who lost a petition to challenge outgoing Kisii governor James Ongwae’s win were dealt a blow when they were ordered to pay Sh4 million.

The same court also slapped poll losser Walter Nyambati with a Sh3 million fine after he failed to  challenge the reelection of former Nyamira Governor, the late John Nyagarama.

The high cost of petitions has even forced some of the losers to settle out of court.

Outgoing Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho had to negotiate the hefty petition fees he was slapped with in 2005 after he unsuccessfully challenged the election of Ananiah Mwaboza in the Kisauni by-election.

According to court files, Joho was ordered to pay Sh40 million as the cost of the petition.  

In 2020, Kisii politician Jeremiah Matoke almost lost property worth Sh8 million over unpaid petition costs. The court had ordered him to pay the Bomachoge Chache MP Alfa Miruka, whose election victory he had challenged. Miruka had obtained orders to attach some properties.

In Vihiga, Jonas Kuko was sentenced to a two-month jail term for failing to pay his lawyer Sh5.4 million in a petition challenging the election of Caleb Amisi as Saboti MP in 2017.

But financial risks notwithstanding, several politicians have vowed to challenge their loss in court.

They include former Nairobi Governor Evans Kidero who lost to Gladys Wanga in the battle for Homa Bay governor.

Former South Mugirango MP Omingo Magara who emerged second in his bid to be elected Kisii Senator has also hinted at the possibility of filing a petition.

In the Kitutu Chache South Parliamentary race, Andrew Maubi who emerged second has also hinted at a possibility of contesting the outcome in court as have outgoing West Mugirango MP Vincent Kemosi of UDA and aspirant Rogers Moturi.

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