, VOI, Kenya, Jan 15 – Taita Taveta Governor Granton Samboja has been granted temporary relief after the High Court in Voi struck out a petition challenging his election.
In a ruling rendered on Monday, Judge Eric Ogola termed the petition by two voters – Armstrong Kiwoi and Thomas Mnyambu Jumwa – an abuse of court process saying a similar petition had been filed in Nairobi.
“For justice to be seen to be done, one of these petitions must be seen to give way and for the foregoing reasons, this petition must indeed give way so that the issue of academic qualification for the first respondent (Samboja) is investigated in the petition 382 of 2017 in Nairobi,” the judge declared.
“The petitioners in full knowledge that the petition 382 of 2017 was filed in Nairobi proceeded to file this petition yet knowing full well that the single issue for determination was the common denominator in both petitions,” he added.
Judge Ogola ordered the petitioners to jointly deposit a sum of Sh500,000.
“The cost shall be shared equally between the first and the second respondent. Other parties shall bear their own costs,” he declared.
Representing the petitioners, lawyers Miguna Miguna and Edwin Sifuna had told the court that Samboja presented fake academic papers for clearance run for office in the August 8 General Election by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC).
Lawyer Ondiek Ayuka, however, defended Samboja from the accusation insisting that the governor was dully qualified to seek the office.
Ayuka insisted that in fact, his client had pursued a certificate, diploma and finally degree at Kenyatta University between the years 2002 to 2009.
The Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) which had been listed as an interested party in the Voi case has maintained that Samboja was not qualified to run for office citing Kenyatta University’s denial that he held a degree from the institution.
On August 19, one of the petitioners – Armstrong Kiwoi – unsuccessfully sought conservatory orders to stop Samboja’s swearing-in.
Sitting at the Mombasa High Court, Judge Eric Ogola dismissed the prayer at the time saying granting it would amount to infringing on Samboja’s rights.
“Upon the first respondent (Samboja) being elected, he immediately acquired a right to be sworn in. The right to be sworn in is protected by the law and cannot be taken away without hearing the Governor,” he said.
Justice Ogola pointed out to the applicant at the time that the court could not hear the matter within the legally defined timelines within which an elected governor is to be sworn in.
“While this court can stop the swearing in, the time factor is so short. I cannot deny the respondent a right to be sworn in as governor without hearing him,” he said.