, NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 16 – Government Chief Whip George Thuo has lost the Juja Parliamentary seat after the High Court nullified his election citing massive irregularities.
Justice Luka Kimaru delivered the blow in a ruling on Friday morning, blaming the defunct Electoral Commission of Kenya’s returning officer for abdicating his statutory duties when he failed to ensure that the candidate signed forms 16A and 17A.
He ruled that a by-election be held and asked the Interim Independent Electoral Commission (IIEC) to ensure a free and fair exercise.
“The credibility of the results was cast in doubt due to the glaring mistakes committed by the defunct Electoral Commission of Kenya and its officials," Justice Kimaru said.
The Returning Officer, added the judge, failed in his statutory duty when he delegated his duty to his deputies.
“He abdicated his duty for failing to complete the form 17A personally as required by the law. He also failed in his duty when he failed to have the candidates append their signatures on the form,” the judge said.
Most of the irregularities were in filling up of statutory forms 16A and 17A which, according to Justice Kimaru, had ended up lowering the poll below the set standards of fair and free elections acceptable in a democratic country like Kenya.
“If there is a body in this country that should be above board (it) should be the Electoral Commission. This court should stand out and be counted as not condoning electoral malpractices,” ruled Justice Kimaru.
The judge said that the validity of the elections was not defended by the results alone as the process of reaching the results must conform to the constitution, relevant statutes and international treaties regarding elections which Kenya is a signatory to.
Poll loser William Kabogo had filed the petition, claiming the election was flawed.
Mr Thuo had secured the seat after garnering 52,321 votes against Mr Kabogo\’s 32,987 during the election in 2007.
Mr Thuo becomes the fourth MP in the 10th Parliament to lose his parliamentary seat through an election petition. The others are Chirau Ali Mwakwere (Matuga), James Magara (South Mugirango) and Joel Onyancha (Bomachoge).
The judge added: “Accordingly, I find that forms 16A and 17A upon which the declaration was made is not a legal instrument upon which to declare the election of the first respondent.”
He added that the forms did not contain the statutory comments by the presiding officers detailing the reasons why they were not signed.
"All these factors poked holes in the credibility of the results," he said.
The judge also took issue with the tallying of votes saying that there was clear discrepancy between votes cast for the President and those for parliamentary candidates where the difference was put at over 5,000 votes.
He said ECK and its agents failed to give an explanation for the anomaly.
“The discrepancy of over 5,000 votes is evidence of electoral malpractices in Juja and this court cannot wish it away,” the judge said.
The judge however absolved Mr Thuo of any electoral malpractice saying Mr Kabogo had failed to prove several allegations he had made against him.
In his petition, Mr Kabogo told the court that the elections were not free and fair and that what had happened was an act of electoral burglary. However in his defence Mr Thuo told the court to dismiss the petition saying the will of the people had overshadowed the deep pockets of Mr Kabogo.
In another petition, former Starehe MP Maina Kamanda won a court recount of votes cast in the constituency in 2007.
The result showed that Mr Kamanda garnered 49,308 votes against Bishop Wanjiru’s 34,871 votes. The tally that was released by the ECK at the time of the election showed Bishop Wanjiru had won the poll by a small margin.
Mr Kamanda is challenging the election of Bishop Margaret Wanjiru as area MP claiming massive fraud.
Separately Wajir South MP Ali Hassan Abdirahman also maintained a lead in a vote recount. Mr Abdirahman had 3,912 votes against petitioner Mohamed Sirat’s 3,402.