Kenya: SDT Gives Nod to Gor Mahia Elections, Ochola Alleges Rigging Plot

Gor Mahia elections will proceed as scheduled on Saturday despite a suit filed before the Sports Dispute Tribunal (SDT) on Wednesday.

Seven Gor Mahia fans had filed before the SDT a suit seeking to stop the elections but SDT fixed it for mention on August 18 for further directions.

The elections will go on as scheduled on August 8 because the Tribunal did not give interim reliefs sought by the claimants.

"That no interim orders are issued in regards to prayer no.3 of the chamber summons dated August 4 and filed at the Tribunal on August 5."

The Tribunal said that it has inherent powers to nullify the results of the elections if it will deem that it was conducted in contravention of the governing rules and in violation of the constitution. The claimants have a ray of hope in that the SDT said it is clothed with powers to annul the elections should it detect an illegality was done during the contested polls.

"The activity of the 1st Respondent (Gor Mahia) scheduled for August 8, 2020 shall be declared null and void in case it was unprocedurally and unlawfully done."

SDT deputy chairperson Elynah Shiveka directed the seven fans to serve their petition papers on the respondents who comprised outgoing executive (chairman, secretary and treasurer) by Monday.

SDT has allowed the respondents to answer the allegations against them within seven days after Monday.

"The Respondents shall have 7 days from from the date of service upon them to file and serve their responses," the tribunal directed.

The Tribunal directed all the parties to appear before it on August 18 at 2.30pm for the parties to confirm compliance with the directions given by the SDT.

The Tribunal will set the case for hearing after the parties confirm they have answered to all the issues that are in dispute.

The dispute pitting the claimants and outgoing officials will be presided over by a three-member panel led by Elynah Shiveka, Gichuru Kiplagat and Allan Owinyi.

The seven claimants have also named the Registrar of Sports as a respondent.

The seven who commenced the petition before SDT include veteran sports journalist Gilbert Wandera, Kulendeng branch's Ben Agunda and David Sewe Odero, Alfred Odhiambo Otieno, George Ochieng' Gombe, Meshack Odero and Judy Anyango Omondi.

There has been discontent in the manner of applying the club's governing rules and its constitution. Some members contest the application of the current set of rules maintaining the current elections be conducted under the auspices of the old regime.

Amongst the claims are that the elections are ultra-vires the Sports Act 2013 and an affront to the 2010 constitution.

Meanwhile, controversy continues to surround the election after Secretary General-elect Sam Ochola alleged that the Electoral Board (EB) was plotting to rig in favour of some candidates.

Addressing journalists in Nairobi on Thursday, Ochola who was elected unopposed said that the EB led by Henry Ogoye has not put in place a mechanism for a credible election.

He said that the contestants are still in the dark on whether the Institution of Public Accountants of Kenya (ICPAK) will oversee the club's virtual elections as had been directed by the Registrar of Sports.

"As we speak right now, we have a lot of unresolved issues with the electoral board. They are playing a lot of cat and mouse game with the candidates and we do not know which company will run the election," lamented Ochola.

He was flanked by treasurer aspirant Dr Chrispine Okoth who threatened to pull out if the electoral board doesn't meet their demands of ensuring the elections are free and fair.

Chairman Ambrose Rachier has also been elected unopposed. Former officials Sally Bolo and Francis Wasuna will battle it out for the vice-chairmanship, with Dolfina Onduto of Gor Mahia Augmentin Fund is challenging Okoth for the treasurer's position.

Ochola demanded that the EB publish the official voter register by latest Friday mid-day and make public where the tallying centre will be located.

He also took issue with the one-hour voting period stating that it will disadvantage those in areas with poor network connectivity.

"The process of voting cannot be restricted to one hour. Kindly inform us why the exercise cannot run for at least five to six hours given the prevailing Covid-19 situation, which discourages overcrowding. How about those who will experience network problems?" he posed.

Ogoye had on Wednesday told Nation Sport that the election results will be out "in record five minutes." He dismissed Ochola's rigging claims, saying the exercise will be fair since ICPAK had approved the link to be used.

"We invited the IT experts from all the candidates who assessed the system and agreed that it cannot be compromised. Ochola's sentiments are political, it is clear that he is being used by some forces to derail the elections. We are determined to hold the elections and we will not engage in those side-shows," said Ogoye.

He added that they have conducted voter education, published a list of registered voters and given time for any unsatisfied candidate to lodge complaints with the board.

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