PRIME Minister Raila Odinga, Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka and Musalia Mudavadi were yesterday let off the hook when a three judge bench dismissed a case challenging their eligibility for the presidency in March 2012.
The three judges also removed the names of Eldoret North MP William Ruto and Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta from the suit papers. However Ruto and Uhuru are not fully clear yet. The court has directed the activists who filed the case to serve the papers on both Ruto and Uhuru so that they can decide if they want to be respondents in the matter or not.
The three judges dismissed the amended suit papers that added Raila, Kalonzo and Mudavadi saying the amendment was done without permission of the court.
"The 2nd, 3rd, 5th, 6th and 7th respondents were joined without leave of court and without their consent. The issue is of great public interest but it is paramount for parties to approach court in proper manner," read the ruling.
Justices Isaack Lenaola, Mohammed Warsame and Philomena Mwilu were responding to questions by lawyers on whether the parties listed were rightfully in court.
The activists, including Augustino Neto (now Ndhiwa MP) and Patrick Njuguna, filed the case against the Attorney-General although orders sought in the body of the suit adversely affect Ruto and Uhuru.
At the initial hearing, lawyer Antony Oluoch informed the court that he wanted to amend his suit papers. Judge Lenaola, who was handling the matter before the petitioners requested a three judge bench, gave him permission. Justice Lenaola further ordered that any party can join the case to support it or oppose it.
After the order, the suit papers were amended twice. The first amendment brought on board Ruto and Uhuru while the second one brought on board Raila, Kalonzo and Mudavadi.
Yesterday the three judges held that both amendments were made without prerequisite permission of the court. The judges said that the petitioner could not decide who will be enjoined in the suit.
Originally the Kenya Youth Parliament and the Kenya Youth League, as well as registered voters Njuguna, Netto and Charles Omanga, wanted Uhuru and Ruto barred from standing as the International Criminal Court charges against them were serious offences under Kenyan and international law. They argue that allowing the two to run for public office would be a recipe for chaos and perpetuate a culture of impunity.
The court was asked to permanently restrain the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission from accepting the nomination of any candidate who has been committed to trial for serious criminal charges. The petitioners also sought a declaration that the presumption of innocence in favour of Uhuru and Ruto should not override the need to uphold the principles of the constitution which has placed strict requirements for a high level of integrity for public office holders. The case will next be mentioned on October 19.