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Petitioner hard-pressed in court to prove claims of rigging in Wajir gubernatorial elections

Friday, December 9th, 2022 16:00 | By
Court hammer. PHOTO/Internet

Former NHIF chief executive officer Hassan Adam, challenging the election of Wajir governor Ahmed Abdullahi, was hard-pressed in court to explain allegations of how the August 9 polls were unfair.

While being cross-examined by defence lawyers, Adam was at pains to prove his allegations that the governorship election was marred by irregularities and illegalities which benefitted Abdullahi.

Adam was also pushed by the defence lawyer Lawyer Omwanza Ombati who represents the incumbent Governor, about an alleged meeting with governor Abdullahi where he allegedly sought an appointment of the county government in exchange for the withdrawal of the election petition.

"Did you meet the Governor in an attempt to negotiate? You recall you met the first respondent Abdullahi) a city hotel?" posed lawyer Ombati.

The petitioner was also asked whether he had negotiated for the position of the Speaker of the County Assembly, the county secretary, and the County Executive Committee member for finance.

"My instructions are that when you met him, you existed that you were willing to bury the hatchet and withdraw the matter if the governor supported you to the position of the Speaker," Omabati asked.

In his response, Adam admitted the meeting on condition disputed negotiating for a position to drop the petition.

High Court Judge George Nduru heard that the meeting was through elders at a hotel in the capital city.

"He (Abdullahi) wanted to come to my office. I said we didn't meet in the office and agreed to meet in a hotel at a specific time. I went there at the right time. He was late as l waited for half an hour. The Governor came and was ready to accommodate me in his government," stated Adam.

The witness added that since his appointment would require vetting, they would back the same if it came out that the Governor was within the law in the appointment.

"I also asked him to look at all communities whether they voted for him or other opponents because he is in office," he added.

The court also heard that the petitioner allegedly sought the Governor's backing in the 2027 General Election.

Further, Adam has put at the task of explaining to the court his claims that the politics in Wajir are primarily clan-based. The court heard that of the 12 Degodia sub-clans, 11 had unanimously endorsed Governor Abdullahi and only the FAI sub-clan to which Adam belongs was indecisive.

The sub-clan had produced four candidates running for the office of the Governor (Ugas Mohamed, Mohamed Elmi, Mohamed Abdi Mohamud and the petitioner).

Adam was also pressed to demonstrate his claims that the governorship election was marred by irregularities and illegalities which benefitted Abdullahi.

In addition, he was questioned on his claims that voters were coerced and intimidated to vote for Abdullahi.

Another allegation was "vote swapping, vote padding and supervised voting." In his response, he could not produce evidence supporting the allegations.

The petitioner also could not provide evidence that he had sought IEBC Chair Wafula Chebukati to postpone the gubernatorial elections due to alleged violence in some constituencies in the county a day before the polls.

The lawyer also questioned Adama over claims that many voters who cast their ballots were not identified using the Kenya Integrated Management System (KIEMS) kits.

According to the petitioner, the move was irregular. Still, he could not demonstrate to the court how the said voters managed to cast their ballot papers without being identified with the electronic kits.

Adam, in his petition, claims Ahmed was not validly elected as Governor for Wajir county and that the IEBC did not put in mechanisms to ensure that the voters were biometrically identified before being allowed to vote for candidates in some polling stations in Wajir county.

He argues the process was marred with padding of votes, exaggeration of voter turnouts, irregular and unlawful assisted voting and wrongful ejection of his agents from several polling stations in Wajir east and Wajir west constituencies.

It also argues that the IEBC unlawfully postponed the election in Eldas constituency within Wajir county to August 10. Says no communication was made to the candidates concerning the postponement, yet they had already deployed their agents to their respective polling stations.

"As a consequence of this unlawful postponement, there was interference with the voting held on August 10 this year with cases of intimidation and coercion of voters in several polling stations in Eldas constituency," says Hassan

He wants the court to declare that the current Governor and deputy were not validly elected as the County Governor and Deputy Governor.

The petitioner yesterday also put up a theory that it was unusual for the Governor to score highly in Wajir west. He had alleged that votes cast in the Governor's favor were 90 percent, but the advocate Omwanza said it was 56.8 percent.

Adam vied for the Governor's seat on the Jubilee party and lost to Abdullahi of the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) party. He garnered 27,224 votes against Abdullahi's 35,533 votes.

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