High Court to give way forward on ballot printing in a week’s time

June 30, 2017 7:44 pm
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The chief legal adviser to the State argued any orders that would interfere with the August 8 date for the General Election would throw the country into a paralysis/FILE

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 30 – A three judge bench hearing an application challenging the award of ballot paper printing tender to Al Ghurair Printing and Publishing will issue its ruling Friday next week.

Presiding judge, Justice Joel Ngugi, gave the directives after a day-long hearing dominated by arguments for and against the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission’s decision to award Al Ghurair the Sh 2.5 billion tender through direct procurement.

Attorney General Githu Muigai had in his argument before the court earlier in the day termed the application by the National Super Alliance (NASA) as inappropriate since the alliance had not challenged the decision by the poll body at the Public Procurement Review Board.

Mugai said NASA’s failure to seek the intervention of the board meant that the court lacked jurisdiction to hear the matter.

“To the extent that this court is a judicial review court, its jurisdiction has been invoked in error and contrary to law and binding precedence. To the extent that the reliefs sought by the applicant are judicial review reliefs including prohibition, the jurisdiction of this court has been invoked in error and in vain,” he said.

The chief legal adviser to the State further argued any orders that would interfere with the August 8 date for the General Election would throw the country into a paralysis.

“The election schedule is of such profound constitutional significance in the political life of this nation that it ought not to be interfered with in the manner suggested by the applicant because to interfere with that date by ordering that that date is vacated, this our republic will be thrown into a constitutional crisis of profound and unprecedented nature,” he argued.

The lead lawyer for the State submitted that should the application by the opposition alliance sail through, the country will have to contend with a crisis rising from lack of a substantive Executive and Parliament after August 8.

Lawyer Waweru Gatonye who appeared for the printer dismissed assertions that one Majid Saif Al Ghurair is the chief executive of the printing firm saying the organisation he heads – Al Ghurair Group – is in fact a separate and independent entity from Al Ghurair Printing.

His defense of the firm came even as NASA through its lawyer consistently presented arguments before the court implying that the Dubai-based printer was awarded the tender due to Majid’s visit to the country late last year when he, together with a delegation of Dubai businessmen, paid a courtesy call to State House, the alleged chief executive of the printing company being the Chairperson of the Dubai Chamber of Commerce.

“How did IEBC arrive at this company because there seems to be an obsession with it?” Senator James Orengo who is part of the legal team representing NASA queried.

“The constitution does not allow us to do things for convenience and even if it is in the public interest it must be in accordance with the law. It is not just about having elections on August 8 but most importantly having them in a free and fair environment,” he argued.

Orengo maintained that there were no sufficient grounds upon which IEBC resorted to direct procurement.

“IEBC cannot act in a manner as they acted without consulting the political players,” he insisted.

Appearing for the Jubilee Party, Senior Counsel Fred Ngatia faulted NASA for dragging President Uhuru Kenyatta into the matter despite the failure by the Opposition to produce factual evidence to support claims that the Head of State interfered with an independent body – IEBC.

During the proceedings, Gatonye indicated that his client – Al Ghurair Printing and Publishing –had already mobilised 50 per cent of the resources required for the printing job, the remaining half due by the end of the first week of July.

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