The High Court is today expected to hear a suit challenging the candidature of Kenya Kwanza presidential running-mate Geoffrey Rigathi Gachagua and 14 other aspirants.
On Wednesday, Justice Mugure Thande ordered 12 activists who had filed an urgent application to serve the affected politicians with their pleadings ahead of today’s hearing.
In the petition, the activists want the High Court to stop the aspirants from contesting next week’s elections over integrity issues and a declaration that the presumption of innocence does not apply to criminal suspects seeking public elective seats.
Applicants also want the court to lock out United Democratic Alliance Nairobi gubernatorial candidate Johnson Sakaja, Aisha Jumwa (Kilifi), Mohamud Ali Mohamed (Marsabit), Muthomi Njuki (Tharaka Nithi), Evans Kidero (Homa Bay), Ali Korane (Garissa) and Dhadho Godana (Tana River).
Also listed in the suit are lawmakers John Waluke (Sirisia), Samuel Arama (Nakuru Town West), Oscar Sudi (Kapseret) and Migori Governor Okoth Obado.
Through lawyer Kibe Mungai, the activists, led by Kenneth Njiru, Meshach Suba and Beatrice Kamau, want the court to determine whether Gachagua is fit and suitable to hold any public office in the wake of a recent High Court ruling, directing him to forfeit Sh202 million to the government over corruption.
Rigathi has since appealed against the ruling. “That a mandatory injunction is issued to compel IEBC and EACC to inquire whether Gachagua meets the moral, ethical, leadership and integrity provisions envisaged under Article 99(2)(b) and Chapter Six of the Constitution to be registered and or gazetted as a candidate for the position of deputy president,” the petitioners seek.
They further want the electoral commission and EACC to file their report on the findings and determination to the court.
Activists further want the matter referred to Chief Justice Martha Koome to appoint a Bench of not less than five judges to hear and determine the suit expeditiously.
Group also wants Judges Antony Mrima, David Majanja, Chacha Mwita, Mugure Thande and Eunice Nge’tich excluded from the petition.
They argue the judges have already dealt with various aspects of disputes over Chapter Six during which fundamental issues concerning enforcement, interpretation, application and implementation of Chapter Six have been evaded or glossed over.
Petitioners also seek to revisit a 2013 judgment that was rendered by the court in a case that involved the eligibility of President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto. At the time, both Uhuru and Ruto were facing crimes against humanity charges at the International Criminal Court.
Attempts by a civil society group to bar them from contesting flopped after the High Court held that it was unreasonable to limit the rights of the President and his deputy under those circumstances, as there was also no verdict of guilt.
Petitioners state that for the last two electoral cycles, the country has been steadily criminalised in the sense that an increasing number of public officials are facing criminal prosecution, investigation and others have been convicted and quickly released on bail pending appeal and meanwhile to continue ‘governing’ their people.
According to the petitioners, Gachagua was not vetted by IEBC and EACC under Chapter Six and Article 99 of the Constitution to establish whether he is fit, suitable and possessed the integrity and honour to be the deputy president.