Of Election petitions and huge fines. Was it worth it?

Petitions have become an expensive affair if the figures cited in Kenya’s many elections cases are anything to go by.

Those who lost their cases have been slapped with costs to the respondents, the IEBC and its officials.

The petitions are coming to a close and with them are great financial and logistical burdens.

ARE THE COSTS JUSTIFIED?

National Assembly Majority leader Aden Duale congratulated the courts for fining busybodies.

Duale said this on Tuesday after Justice Hedwig On’gudi dismissed politician Farah Maalim’s petition against him and directed him to pay Sh6 million in costs.

Maalim wanted Duale’s win nullified on several grounds including irregularities, bribery and failure to sign prerequisite forms.

The victor said: “Petition losers are now paying Sh6 million and other millions. The court is sending a message that busybodies will not go home Scot free.

The Majority leader was of the view that losers have to part with huge amounts of money.

“The way judiciary is dealing with busybodies is the same way the house will deal with the baseless petitions brought here,” he added.

In  a dig at former Gem MP Jakoyo Midiwo, Duale asked MPs to be ready to bail out some of their colleagues who had been slapped with heavy financial bills after dismissal of their petitions.

“My good friend Jakoyo has a bill of Sh3 million, my former colleague Nicholas Gumbo has another Sh3 million… I want to help them. This week will be very bad for me because we have to do Harambees (fundraisers) to raise these amounts,” he added.

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But Suna East MP Junet Mohamed said the Judiciary should be held accountable.

“The judiciary must be accountable to Kenyans. The Judicial Service Commission takes ages to handle petitions. Why should someone pay 12 million for a petition?” he asked at Parliament Buildings.

“[A fine of] Sh12 million is an abnormality of the highest order. We must come up with mechanisms on holding the Judiciary accountable after three or four years.”

The mechanisms, the MP said, will help Kenyans ‘ventilate” after rulings on their cases are made.

“I have no problem with Duale’s court victory but people have issues and we must get a way to ventilate on the issues,” he said.

He added that rulings issued at the Judiciary must be checked thoroughly.

READ : Court upholds Kisii Women rep Ong’eras’ elections victory

Junet is not the only legislator who has complained about the costs of suits.

Murang’a Senator Irungu Kang’ata noted those who withdraw their cases still bear costs, something that he said should be looked into.

“Even if you were to withdraw a petition, some costs were incurred and the court has the duty to make a judgment on who should bear that cost,” he said via Twitter.

THE NON-FINANCIAL PAIN OF LOSS

With parties going for popular lawyers mostly based in Nairobi, the additional costs of transporting and accommodating them and their assistants for the duration of the hearing add to the headache.

Such was the case in the petition against Wajir Governor Mohamed Abdi, which was heard in Nairobi, Kwale Governor Salim Mvurya’s which was heard in Mombasa and that of Ugenya constituency heard in Kisumu.

On top of the huge financial losses is the undeniable pain that losers go through, months after elections take place.

In these latest cases, for instance, the vote took place on August 8, 2017 while petitions are being conclude in February 2018. The applicants and their families have gone through months of expenses and anxiety, which certainly have their own tolls.

While some have the strength to appeal, others have decided to pay the costs and wait for the next election, which is five years away.

They incur more costs in the bids to achieve their dreams, especially in the area of campaigns.

SOURCE: THE STAR

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