Witnesses in Wajir gubernatorial poll petition at pains to point out irregularities

Abdullahi Ahmed

Wajir Governor Abdullahi Ahmed takes oath of office.

Photo credit: Edwin Kipsang | Nation Media Group

Petitioner’s witnesses in Wajir gubernatorial election were at pains to demonstrate to an election court that some voters who cast their ballots during the August 9 General Election were not identified using the Kenya Integrated Management System (KIEMS) kits.

This is after Ibrahim Muhamud Abdirahman, one of the key witnesses for the petitioner, Hassan Mohamed of Jubilee told the election that a majority of voters who cast their ballot for all the six elective positions were not identified by the KIEMS, giving a competitive advantage to Governor Abdullahi’s perceived strongholds.
However, Abdirahman could not point out specific polling stations where the kits have failed despite making a blanket claim that the two wards of Arbajahan and Hadado in Wajir West where the first respondent and current governor Ahmed Abdullahi got significant votes, had several voters using alternative voting systems other than KIEMS kits.
During the cross-examination, Abdirahman conceded despite verbally listing Arbajahan and Hadado wards as areas where voters may have been compromised, he did not file an affidavit to support his claims.

“You concede in your affidavit that the elections you participated in as a senatorial candidate were not free and fair, why did you not file a petition the challenge the elections for the position of Senator,” posed Mr Omwanza Ombati, the lead counsel for Governor Ahmed Abdullahi.
“The petition has a financial implication component, in getting a decent lawyer to prosecute your case. Also, I did not deem it fit to file a petition against the senator-elect,” he answered.
Abdirahman vied on Kanu ticket for Wajir West parliamentary seat in 2013 and 2017 but lost on both occasions but challenged the results through election petitions in 2013 and 2017. In 2022, he vied for the senate seat in Wajir County on a Jubilee Party ticket and finished a distant seventh.
“You confirm that you voted in Kalikacha polling station, do you have a complaint in that polling station? Mr Omwanza posed.

Abdirahman replied: “Yes I have because I was called by an agent that they used KIEMS kits in the morning but resorted to manual in the afternoon, but this complaint is not in my affidavit.”
The petitioner’s third witness, Farhan Abdi, a Jubilee Party chief agent, was also at pains to support his claims that voters allied to petitioners were ejected from various polling stations for dubious reasons.

“How will one tell that a voter coming to vote at a polling station is allied to the petitioner for him or her to be evicted for dubious reasons as you cite in your affidavit,” asked Mr Omwanza.

Timely briefs

Farhan defended himself that he had agents in every polling station who gave him timely briefs of the alleged discrimination and ejection from the polling station.
He however admitted that they did not meet any voter who was turned away from voting as the election was ongoing.

“Did you meet any voter who had been turned away from the polling station as you claim or even one who told you that he or she was targeted as voting got underway?” Mr Omwanza asked. “No, I did not,” he replied.

 Farhan, was also unable to link Governor Ahmed Abdullahi and his deputy Ahmed Muhumed Abdi over his voter tampering claims in polling stations in Wajir West Constituency.
“Did you see the governor, his deputy or any of their agents interfering with voters in the alleged polling stations, Did you see the interference with your own eyes or hear the same,” Omwanza posed.
The Fourth petitioner’s witness Mr Bishar Billow could not explain to the IEBC legal team, how he was appointed as a Jubilee agent on 3rd February 2022 whilst the Jubilee candidate was nominated by the party on 22nd April 2022.
Lead counsel representing the Independent Boundaries and Electoral Commission (IEBC) Mahat Somane defended the commission saying that the polls body conducted free, fair and transparent elections despite the claims by the petitioner and his witnesses.
On the clan dynamics, the court was told that of the 12 Degodia sub-clans, 11 had unanimously endorsed Governor Ahmed Abdullahi Jiir, and only the FAI sub-clan to which the petitioner belongs was indecisive because four of them were running for the office of the governor (Ugas Mohamed, Mohamed Elmi, Dr Hassan Adan, and Mohamed Abdi Mohamud).  Further, the court was told that Governor Ahmed Abdullahi Jiir had the goodwill and support from all the residents of Wajir County irrespective of their clan affiliations.

Ahmed Abdullahi of ODM won the Wajir governor contest by 35,533 votes followed by Hassan Mohamed Adam of Jubilee who garnered 27,224 votes while Ahmed Mukhtar of UDA finished third with 21,859 votes. Others were Mohamed Elmi who vied on an Independent ticket 21,047, Abdullahi Ali of UDM got 15,486, ANC’s Ugas Shikh got 8,086 votes.

The majority clan in Wajir, the Degodia, had six candidates on the ballot with Hassan Adam of Jubilee, Mohamed Elmi (independent), Ugass Sheikh of ANC and former governor Mohamed Abdi all from the Fai sub-clan splitting the votes in Tarbaj constituency as well as the rural wards of Qorof Harar and Waberi of Wajir East.
Jiir Abdullahi was the sole candidate from his Mantan sub-clan that dominates the populous and vast Wajir West constituency.

He is also a seasoned politician with 20 years of experience in elective politics.
Mukhtar of UDA and Ali of UDM are from Ogaden (Wajir South) and Ajuran (Wajir North) respectively.

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