Kwale Governor Fatma Achani to know election petition fate today

Kwale Governor Fatuma Achani  speaks after she won the Kwale County gubernatorial race on August 12, 2022. An election official has there were errors in the poll results, however, they were minimal and did not affect the final results that showed Ms Achani won.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

Kwale governor Fatma Achani will today know her fate when the High Court siting in Kwale delivers a judgment in a petition challenging her election. 

Justice Francis Gikonyo set January 26 as the judgment date for the petition filed by two Kwale voters who have challenged the outcome of the elections. 

The petitioners had called more than eight witnesses to prove their case against Ms Achani. In the petition, the complainants have alleged that the Kwale gubernatorial elections were marred with irregularities including voter bribery. 

The court was told during the hearing that voters were bribed and that the governor used her position as the deputy governor at the time to influence county workers to support her bid.

However, the witnesses could not identify the alleged county employees who campaigned for Ms Achani.  The evidence used in the case also involved video clips that were allegedly taken during campaigns that were played in open court as the petitioners seek to prove electoral irregularities that favoured Ms Achani.

The video footage allegedly captured unnamed county employees campaigning for the Kwale governor who was at the time Mining Cabinet Secretary Salim Mvurya's deputy.

In the videos, some of the witnesses could not identify the county employees they had alleged in the petition had engaged in campaigns to support Ms Achani’s bid.

“I do not know the identity of the person captured in the video mobilizing women. I don’t know most of the county employees,” said Mr Bujra Mohamed who tabled evidence on behalf of the petitioners. 

In the August polls, Ms Achani who was the UDA candidate, emerged victorious after garnering 59,674 votes against Prof Hamadi Boga’s 53,972 votes.

But Mr Dziwe Pala and Mr Suleiman Ali have urged the court to overturn Ms Achani’s victory over voter bribery and other electoral malpractices. 

Ms Achani, however, defended her victory, saying she was validly elected and that the allegations of electoral malpractices are baseless. 

Through her team of advocates, Ms Achani asked the court to dismiss the petition saying it did not disclose serious issues to warrant nullification of her victory.

The governor submitted that the evidence tabled against her was so weak and did not meet the threshold required for an election to be nullified. 

“The respondent won the elections fairly, there were no notable irregularities identified. We ask that the petition be dismissed,” she said through her advocates. 

The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) also submitted that the elections were held according to the law and that there were no serious failures of Kiems kits. 

Though an IEBC official admitted that there were some issues in some polling stations, the official insisted errors identified were minimal and did not affect the final results in which Ms Achani was declared the winner.

The court heard that in some polling stations, the total number of valid votes cast exceeded the number of registered voters. The electoral agency however defended itself that results that contained the errors or discrepancies were rejected. 

Basing their arguments that the elections were not fairly conducted, they want an order that quashing the results as announced by the commission. 

Alternatively, they have asked the court to declare Prof Boga of ODM who emerged second as the validly elected governor of Kwale County.

Also, they want an order directing IEBC to organize and conduct fresh gubernatorial elections for Kwale county in strict conformity with the Constitution and the Elections Act.

They have alleged that Ms Achani did not win the seat fairly as the elections were marred with irregularities that affected the final results.
In their court documents, the petitioners allege that the gubernatorial elections and the resultant declaration of Ms Achani as the winner subverted the will and intention of the Kwale residents.