NAIROBI, Kenya, May 30 – The Supreme Court on Friday afternoon reinstated Peter Munya as the Governor of Meru County.
In a majority ruling, the judges said the Court of Appeal misapplied the law in their decision to nullify his election.
“The judgment of the Court of Appeal sitting in Nyeri annulling the election of Peter Munya is thereby quashed. The declaration of the results of the election by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) in respect of the seat of Governor of Meru County is hereby restored,” the judges ruled.
The bench said the petitioner did not prove that the number of votes cast exceeded the number of registered voters as alleged. According to the judges, such allegations are serious and require a burden of proof on the part of the petitioner.
The judges also said nullification of an election should not be based on errors unless such errors have an effect on the final outcome of the election results.
In reinstating Munya, the judges concluded that the petitioner was unspecific in the application asking for a recount of votes and scrutiny. In their view, the judges said the petitioner ought to have asked for a recount and scrutiny in specific polling stations with irregularities.
Speaking after the court ruling, a jubilant Munya appreciated that he could now carry on with his work as the Governor without court interruptions.
“It is a landmark decision; it has taken a whole year… the time we would have spent serving people. We had to divide between doing the work of serving the people who elected us and also working in the court,” Munya said.
According to the Governor, the Friday ruling was not only important for him but also other petitions that have been taken to the courts on such grounds.
“If we had allowed that decision to stay, it would have caused havoc in the country. Because any allegations you make in a petition without proving them could be a basis of annulling an election, it could have caused suffering and instability in the country. Today’s ruling was in the best interest of the country,” he said.
Okongo Omogeni who has been representing Munya with Tom Ojienda said it was important that the Supreme Court paid great attention to the interpretation of electoral laws in the country.
He appreciated that people petitioning elections should have supporting evidence to prove their allegations and now dwell on errors that occur during the electoral processes.
“On the burden of proof, the Supreme Court has today affirmed that anybody who files a petition wanting to overturn an election bears the burden of presenting evidence in court that can support the allegations that are contained in any petition,” he said.
He continued: “The judges have also said that in this country we cannot have an election that has mathematical precision; that human mistakes will always be there but what is important is for the court to evaluate and make a conclusion whether the mistakes which are human in nature affect the outcome of the elections.”
The Court of Appeal in Nyeri annulled Munya’s election as the Meru Governor on March 12 overturning the High Court’s decision which had ruled that he had won the election as declared by the IEBC after the March 2013 election.