February 21st 2018

Top Stories / National

Court dismisses Wajir senator petitions, certifies Dr Kabreta’s August 8 win

“I hold that these omissions or mistakes, viewed in perspective of the overall evidence of wrongdoing does not support a conclusion that the election was so irregularly conducted that a reasonable tribunal would not uphold the entire election of senator for Wanjir County,” the judge held.

By Abdirahman Rashid Farahabdirahmancajab@gmail.comWednesday, 31 Jan 2018 19:29 EAT

Dr Kabreta (in red tie) celebrates the dismissal of the cases with his supporters outside the Milimani Court after the ruling. (Photo: Courtesy/Abdullahi Abdirahman).

The High Court this afternoon dismissed two petitions challenging the election of Wajir Senator Dr Ali Abdullahi alias Kabreta.

Justice Richard Mwongo, sitting at the Milimani Law Courts in Nairobi, ruled that the petitioners, Abdirahman Adan Abdikadir and Adow Mohamed Abikar, did not prove their claims alleging that the election was fraught with irregularities. The judge dismissed the cases with costs, requiring the petitioners to pay Sh1.6 million to each certified counsel in the proceedings.

The judge ruled: “I hold that these omissions or mistakes, viewed in perspective of the overall evidence of wrongdoing, do not support a conclusion that the election was so irregularly conducted that a reasonable tribunal would not uphold the entire election of senator for Wajir County.” This was with respect to evidence confirming that declaration and transmission of the results from 18 polling stations did not meet the legal standards.

In the affected stations, either Presiding Officers and Deputy Presiding Officers did not sign the results declaration forms as required by law or party agents were not accorded the opportunity to authenticate the results declared. And the presiding officers did not comment on the failure by the agents to sign as required by Regulation 79(4).

The judge, however, ruled that presiding officers in the said stations committed electoral offenses under Section 87 of the Elections Act that requires officers to sign Forms mandatory for the declaration of results. Justice Mwongo directed that Senator Kabreta be issued with a certificate ascertaining the validity of his election as required under Section 86 of the Elections Act. The certificate will be accorded to the senator by the Deputy Registrar of the High Court and Speaker of the Senate.

Dr Kabreta enjoyed a massive win in the election over his challengers owing to a broad grassroots campaign that saw him emerge as the favourite for the seat as early as January 2017 when elders of the Ajuran clan endorsed him as their sole candidate for the seat.

The senator’s legal team relied on the testimony of electoral officials and his agents which rebutted all the claims in the petition to his advantage. For example, the lawyers held that to the extent that there were mistakes in the results declaration forms highlighted above, the same were minor and did not impugn the overall credibility of the whole election.

The lawyers showed that the petitioners were weak candidates who could never have won the election over Dr Kabreta even if the results from the affected stations were removed from the overall tallies of the candidates. The senator, being a former two-term Member of Parliament and three five-year term member of the Parliamentary Service Commission, had the political experience to pull the win. 

The senator's legal team was led by Issa Mansur, and he was assisted by Hussein Chichena. The two lawyers are experienced litigation counsels. Last year, Mansur represented the IEBC during the Supreme Court petition challenging President Uhuru Kenyatta's win.

After the verdict, Mansur said that he had been confident from the beginning that Dr Kabreta would win the case, which he described as having been weak. He said justice had been done in the court's confirmation of Kabreta's win. 

The senator thanked the Judiciary for what he described as a very fair judgment. "This is my second win. I had won fairly and squarely on 8 August and now the court has upheld that verdict. I am now asking my friends, the first and second petitioners, to accept the reality on the ground and support me in the interest of Wajir people."

Asked by reporters what his opinion was of the petitioners' rights to appeal the ruling, the senator said the petitioners should stop further litigation and accept the verdict of the court. He predicted that any appeal would cost the petitioners a heavier burden in costs should they take that route. He, however, extended an olive branch to the petitioners and said he would work with them to transform Wajir County.

After the ruling, the senator addressed his supporters and members of his Senate staff office over a luncheon at the Arabian Cuisine in Upper Hill. He thanked his staff for keeping faith in him and congratulated his supporters who turned up for the lunch.

Various political leaders from Wajir who were present at the court or at the luncheon congratulated the senator on the ruling. These included the current First Lady of Wajir, Mama Kheira, former nominated senator Halima Abdille, former Wajir West MP Abdikadir Ore, among others.

Also congratulating the senator from Wajir was businessman Ali alias Junior Jeblow who said that Kabreta's win of the petition had reaffirmed the fact that his election was free and fair. The young businessman is one of many Wajir political commentators who had counseled for the rejection of the petition which he said was frivolous.

Abdirahman Rashid Farah is a contributing reporter for the Kenya Free Press based in Wajir County

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