Court dismisses Uhuru, Ruto eligibility case

Judges said that since Kenya's election commission had already passed Kenyatta and Ruto as fit to stand for election, any ruling "would end up usurping" the powers of the commission/FILE

Judges said that since Kenya’s election commission had already passed Kenyatta and Ruto as fit to stand for election, any ruling “would end up usurping” the powers of the commission/FILE

NAIROBI, Feb 15 – The High Court on Friday dismissed an integrity case against Jubilee presidential candidate Uhuru Kenyatta and his running mate William Ruto, clearing the way for them to seek office in next month’s general election.

During the long awaited ruling at the Milimani Law Courts, the judges explained that the two had already been cleared by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) which is mandated to review and clear the eligibility of people seeking elective positions.

The judges further ruled that questioning their integrity required a proper inquiry which was not the mandate of the court, which relies on evidence provided.

“Institutions like the IEBC and the Ethics and Anti Corruption Commission are bestowed with necessary power to conduct, inquire and take disciplinary action. The court should not descend into the arena of inquiry… its proper rule is to ensure the inquiry is undertaken in the standards acceptable in the Constitution,” the judges explained.

Presiding Judge Msagha Mbogholi further said the case challenging the eligibility of the two was not within the jurisdiction of the court as disputes on elections and nomination of presidential candidates should be directed to the Supreme Court.

According to the five-judge bench, the petitioners in the case should also have gone to the IEBC to raise complaints within the timelines provided for resolving disputes related to the nominations of the two.

Mbogholi ruled that stopping the two from seeking elective positions would deny them their democratic right which is guarded by the Constitution.

The judges further said it was up to Kenyans to elect leaders of their choice, a responsibility that should not be blocked.

“The Constitution of Kenya places all the sovereign power on the people of Kenya which shall be exercised only in accordance with the Constitution. Limiting the people’s rights would be inimical to the exercise of democratic right and freedom of its members,” he asserted.

The ruling followed Thursday’s status conference at the International Criminal Court in The Hague, in which Kenyatta and Ruto participated via video link from Nairobi.

During Friday’s landmark ruling, Justice Mbogholi said the ICC cases against the two could not be a reason to stop them from vying in elections since no local or international trial had convicted them to imprisonment for more than six months.

“It has neither been alleged nor has any evidence been placed before us (that) the respondents have been subjected to any trial in any local court or indeed the ICC that has led to imprisonment for more than six months,” he ruled.

He made it clear that although the ICC had committed their cases to trial, presumption of innocence will continue to prevail until the conclusion of the case.

“The confirmation of charges at the ICC may have formed the basis for commencement of the trial against the respondents. The end result however cannot be presumed, neither is there sufficient evidence that a conviction may be arrived at,” he explained.

The integrity suit was filed by four NGOs which had wanted the High Court to rule if the two can still vie for high office, with crimes against humanity charges pending in The Hague.

JUDIE KABERIA

JUDIE KABERIA

Judie, a Special Projects Reporter started practicing journalism in 2003. She has worked in Kenya and Germany. Judie has scooped awards in Reproductive Health, Population, Gender and Development. She has participated in international conferences in Germany, Switzerland and Netherlands. Judie has written a booklet, 'Justice and Peace in the Kenyan Eye'. She has a soft spot for human rights, crime, peace and justice stories and she is now pursuing a Master's Degree at the University of Leicester (U.K).

  • Steve M

    The ruling sounds naive with clever way of shirting around the issue and the environment the country is in. May be filing the case before the Supreme Court might be the way to go however, with no deputy CJ as well and the time left before the elections, it might be a case of too much within a very short time left. Governance systems are very clever but its better late than never!!

    • gmwaura

      If they take this route(supreme court),it means they agree with the ruling including the order they pay the costs that i believe shall ran to at least 200 million shillings.this is to be paid by the individual busybodies because the ngo,s are not legal persons. the winners should pursue this vigorously to shame this busybodies and make them know that seeking publicity at someones expense when there is no cause has consequences.

  • perepepe

    This was nonsense on stilts from the get-go. A student studying law at UON would have told you as much. The civil society group was asking the High Court to rule on a hypothetical situation. They have not been convicted in any Court of law and neither jailed for six months. Therefore one cannot presuppose their guilt at the ICC. Chapter 6 of the constitution is very clear. The integrity broached in this chapter applies to appointed persons and NOT elected ones. Vetting in elective positions can only be done by the IEBC. The two gentlemen were cleared to run and hence the suit was overtaken by events. And then they lodged the case in the wrong jurisdiction. Any matter arising from election of a President or his Deputy is the province of the Supreme Court. But we all know the motive behind this suit and the masters that foot the bill. Well, it has been dismissed. Next!….coz this juggernaut is unstoppable baby!!

    • bobcat

      It was not dismissed, the court simply does not have jurisdiction on the matter, in simple language my friend the case has not been heard. Stop opening the champagne bottles yet.

      • perepepe

        It was dismissed and orders for costs against the petitioners given. I should request Jubilee to buy champagne bottles with this money for immediate popping in celebration.

  • Francis

    When this case was first filed i wrote on this forum that the judgement would be as follows : Fools go and look for something better to do.For by then both Uhuru and Ruto had not even been nominated-nay they were still in their “old parties” and had only declared intent.How on earth does the court rule on someones intent to run for office? The courts cannot be used as toilets by political thugs and hack-men to pass their “gas” to scare Kenyans “out of the room”. Some of these thugs used the case to earn favors from their sponsors and got elected to parliament.They went ahead to rig themselves in the nominations and still talk about INTEGRITY! They could not “serve” the other candidates because those “went Mteja Hapatikani” only Uhuru and Ruto “were available”. The argument that there is a “likely hood” that the two could be elected and hence the court should stop them is the most bizarre argument ever in a court of law. It is not the work of the court to stop them- IT IS FOR THE VOTERS TO DECIDE.You cannot win a game by stopping it from happening.Unknown to the small mind NGO political hecklers is that the constitution states that should a candidate nominated by IEBC die during the election period- the elections will not proceed.A new game will have to start so that voters have a CHOICE and the party can nominate another candidate. This is wise because looking at what these guys have tried they could “eliminate” all other candidates and hope to win “unopposed”. Go back to the bag and look for the next trick guys- it will not work.By your acts you have helped elect the duo without a sweat by rallying Kenyans behind them for “free”.