The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) on Wednesday suffered a setback when a High Court judge declined to withdraw himself from handling a case involving a Machakos gubernatorial candidate.
Justice George Odunga, while delivering his verdict, said there was no sufficient evidence by the IEBC to stop him from hearing a case involving Wiper Party’s candidate Wavinya Ndeti.
The judge dismissed the request by IEBC together with a Machakos MCA Kyalo Peter Kyuli and declined to refer the matter to another High Court judge.
He further asked the Commission to pay for the legal suit.
“It is my view that based on the IEBC and the MCA’s submissions; the issues raised herein do not meet the test for the recusal or disqualification of a judge,” ruled Justice Odunga.
He pointed out that disqualifying himself from the matter to allow another judge of the same division who is sympathetic to that demand handle the case would create a negative perception to the judicial process.
“If that were to happen, the citizens of this country would be led to believe that justice depends on a particular judge rather than the rule of law, a belief that would bring the whole judicial process into disrepute and embarrassment,” said Justice Odunga.
According to the IEBC who had first made the request to have the matter handled by another judge, they did not oppose the fact that the case will not be determined competently and objectively before Justice Odunga.
The commission’s bone of contention with the judge was that he had handled a case involving Ms Ndeti and her former party, Chama Cha Uzalendo (CCU).
The MCA had supported arguments by IEBC while Wiper Party opposed the request.
On June 9, Ms Ndeti challenged a verdict issued by the IEBC’s disputes resolutions committee the previous day which had declared her as an unsuitable candidate to vie.
Through her lawyer, she argued that the IEBC committee erred when it issued the verdict without getting clarification from the Registrar of Political Parties to ascertain which party she belonged to.
And Justice Odunga granted her reprieve by directing that she continues with her campaigns and that IEBC should gazette her name just like other candidates.
The IEBC committee’s verdict upheld allegations by Mr Kyuli who had claimed that she belonged to both Wiper and CCU.
But she argues that she indeed resigned from her former party on April 5 and joined her current one.
In her case documents, she claims that there was also a coalition agreement dated April 24 which had been reached between the two parties on who were to be nominated as candidates for the August 8 polls.
The Agreement had been presented before the Political Parties Disputes tribunal which acknowledged that she became a member of Wiper as a result of the agreement under exceptional circumstances and was also communicated to the Registrar.
The hearing of the case resumes on Friday.