29 March 2014

Kenya: Ousted Migori Governor to Appeal Ruling

THE Court of Appeal in Kisumu yesterday nullified the election of John Okoth Obado as Migori County Governor. The court ruled that tallying errors in the election compromised the election. It said 44 cases of alteration were found in Kuria West, Kuria East and Suna West. There were also errors in the IEBC forms 35 and 36.

The three-judge bench of Jamila Mohammed, Festus Azangalala and David Maraga ordered for a fresh election. Justice Otieno Onyango read the unanimous ruling and directed Obado and the IEBC to pay costs of Sh1million each. "From the evidence provided, there were serious irregularities committed by IEBC that affected the overall results," the judges ruled.

The court found that gubernatorial election was not conducted in accordance with law. In March 2013 Obado of People's Democratic Party was declared the winner after he received 123,821 votes against Edward Oyugi's 123,658. "We therefore found that the sovereign power of the Migori county residents was overthrown by incredible and inaccurate election process," the judges said.

The appeal case was filed by Oyugi of the ODM. Obado was the only non-ODM governor in Nyanza. Oyugi's petition asked the court to look whether a recount ordered by the court had been properly analysed.

The vote recount by the Deputy Registrar produced a gap of 577 votes between Obado and Oyugi, instead of the 163 announced by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission. Oyugi insisted that he won the election by 174 votes.

Last year judge Esther Maina in Homa Bay declined to nullify the election on grounds of irregularities.

"The electoral commission's mistakes recorded were not sufficient reasons to nullify the election," said Judge Maina in her ruling.

However the Appellate Court said it was improper for the High Court to find that there were inaccuracies and negligence by the IEBC but still say the election was free and fair.

The court dismissed the IEBC's defence of human error saying it should not be used as a blanket defence for a carelessly conducted process.

Obado said he will now go to the Supreme Court to challenge the Court of Appeal ruling.

"I will seek re-election but after the Supreme Court hears my appeal. My rivals should not celebrate yet. I ask my supporters to remain calm," said Obado.

Prof Oyugi welcomed the Appeal Court decision and also asked his supporters to remain calm.

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