Friday, April 30, 2010

HABARI ZA KUVUNJIKA: Dick Wathika loses Makadara seat

Dick Wathika has become the latest Member of Parliament to lose his seat after a court nullified his election as the representative for Makadara constituency.

Delivering judgment earlier today, Lady Justice Kalpana Rawal said the electoral process was marred by irregularities. She said the election was not free and fair and that the returning officer abdicated her responsibility.

Lady Justice Rawal told a packed court that Mr Wathika was not validly elected, but said that she will issue a ruling in the afternoon on whether to stay the judgement before giving the parliamentary Speaker a certificate nullifying the MP's election. The stay, if given, will give Mr Wathika a 30-day window in which to appeal the case. Mr Wathika’s election was challenged by former MP Reuben Ndolo who cited numerous irregularities during the 2007 polls.

Immediately after the ruling, hundreds of Mr Ndolo's supporters took to the streets to celebrate. They spilled into the busy City Hall Way chanting pro-Ndolo slogans as they snaked their way into Taifa Road and Mama Ngina Street.

Lady Justice Rawal told a packed court that Mr Wathika was not validly elected.

Police in anti-riot gear had a hard time controlling the crowds and were forced to form a human shield between the two groups of supporters, on Wabera street, to avoid confrontation. Blowing horns and waving placards, Mr Ndolo's supporters made their way to Nation Centre. They carried the former MP shoulder high, dancing and ululating his praises.

Through his lawyer Mr Otiende Amolo, the petitioner had asked the judge to nullify the election, alleging officials of the now defunct Electoral Commission of Kenya (ECK) colluded to rig the polls by orchestrating his arrest on December 28, 2007. He said a returning officer, Ms Jerusha Chepsat, signed and issued a winner certificate to Mr Wathika before declaring the results. Ms Chepsat issued the certificate on December 28, 2007 and announced the results on the night of December 29-30, 2007.

On his part, Mr Wathika, through Mr Kioko Kilukumi, maintained that the allegations had not been proved.

Mr Wathika becomes the fifth Parliamentarian to lose his seat in an election petition since the last General Election in 2007. The same fate befell Joel Onyancha (Bomachoge PNU), Omingo Magara (South Mugirango, ODM), Chirau Mwakwere (Matuga, PNU) and most recently Juja MP George Thuo (PNU).

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