High Court stops Piny Luo event as Ruto, Raila battlefronts increase

Azimio la Umoja leader Raila Odinga (C) after a meeting with Luo Council of Elders at Mama Grace Onyango Social Hall

Azimio la Umoja leader Raila Odinga (centre) after a meeting with Luo Council of Elders at Mama Grace Onyango Social Hall in Kisumu. 

Photo credit: Ondari Ogega | Nation Media Group

A High Court sitting in Siaya has stopped the much-publicised cultural event dubbed “Piny Luo” scheduled for June 30 to July 4 in Homa Bay County.

The application that was filed under certificate of urgency before Justice Daniel Ogembo has nine petitioners; Nyandiko Ongadi, Thomas Achando, Silas Olala, Okeyo Abebe, Oduogo Gwena, Margaret Nyambok, Felix Okal, Pius Odote and Stephene Oludhe.

Siaya Governor James Orengo, his Kisumu counterpart Anyang Nyong’o are first and second respondents respectively; Gladys Wanga (Homa Bay) and Ochilo Ayako are third and fourth respondents.

The petition also had County governments of Siaya, Kisumu, Homa Bay and Migori are listed as fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth respondents respectively.

The event is to be graced by thee ODM party leader Raila Odinga.

It is also meant to offer a platform where the new Ker Luo would be unveiled, months after the death of the former Ker Opiyo Otondi.

Ker Luo is regarded as the cultural leader of the community.

“Upon the perusal and consideration of the said application, Notice of motion, affidavit in support and annextures thereto; it is hereby ordered that the application is certified as urgent,” read the court order signed by the Siaya Hogh Court Judge Daniel Ogembo.

It further directed, “The interim conservatory order is hereby issued prohibiting the respondents, their agents and servants, from issuing and/or taking any instructions, plans, actions and/ or activities arising and/ or based on the decisions and announcements  by the first, second, third and fourth respondents to hold a meeting that they describe as an annual cultural event dubbed “Piny Luo 2023” which they scheduled for June 30 to July 4 or any other time in Homa Bay County or anywhere else.”

The order also prohibits the respondents from naming the new Ker Luo pending the inter parte hearings and determination of the application.

The hearing is scheduled for 4 July.

Since the death of former Ker Riaga Ogalo, there has been two factions of the Luo Council of elders each claiming to be the bonafide elders.

The first faction is led by Nyandiko Ongadi who claims to have been the rightful elder after the late Ker Riaga, he has since declared his support for President William Ruto.

The other faction that has the support of Mr Odinga had the late Otondi; they are due to name the successor.

Mr Ongadi earlier today challenged elders who are opposing his leadership to convene a meeting of all Luo elders and oust him if he is found unfit to lead his community.

Mr Ongadi insisted that he is the bonafide leader of the outfit and said he can only step down from his position if the community shows lack of confidence in him.

He openly opposed plans to elect a new chairman who will run a parallel office of the Luo Council of Elders.

"If they proceed and choose someone as chairman while I am still in office, I will consider him as an opposition leader to my "government"," the senior citizen said.

Eight people have presented themselves as potential candidates for the seat.

Mr Odinga is at the center of the election of the new chairman which will happen in Homa Bay this weekend.

But Mr Ongadi opposed the process saying it should not happen as he is still an office holder and the leader of the outfit. He said he is ready to end internal differences among elders by engaging in talks with his critics.

His team welcomed negotiations with the other faction as a way of ending their differences.

Mr Ongadi said elders supporting him are willing to engage in discussions with their competitors on how the differences should end.

He, therefore, appealed to them to suspend the election exercise until the matter is solved.

In the talks, both teams will defend either side on who should lead the council.

"I am ready to defend myself. I hold registration documents of the group meaning I am the recognised leader," Mr Ongadi said.

"Other communities will see us as people who are fighting. We have had a history of fighting the government and now the war is internal," Mr Ongadi said.

His deputy Thomas Achiando said no election should be conducted as their Constitution does not allow for the same if someone is in office.

"Based on the rules of the council, Nyandiko is the leader of the outfit. I have minutes of the meeting when he was elected and all the elders agreed that he is their leader," he said.