Jubilee row: Murathe, Kioni ouster case fails to start after lawyers clash

Jeremiah Kioni and David Murathe

Jubilee Secretary General Jeremiah Kioni (left) and David Murathe.

Photo credit: File

The hearing of a case involving the ouster of Jubilee Party top officials Jeremiah Kioni and David Murathe failed to begin on Tuesday following confusion on their legal representation after two lawyers clashed over who was properly hired.

This is even as the newly elected party officials led by Kanini Kega, Adan Keynan, Sabina Chege and Joshua Kutuny protested the postponement of the case saying the confusion was deliberate to allow the ousted officials to continue staying in office.

Mr Murathe and Mr Kioni are allied to former President Uhuru Kenyatta and the Azimio Coalition while the new officials are allied to President William Ruto and the Kenya Kwanza alliance.

Through lawyer Edward Muriu, who is also Gatanga MP, the new officials told the political parties’ tribunal that the confusion and contest between advocates were meant to delay the proceedings of the case so that a planned National Delegates Convention (NDC) can take place.

Confusion emerged after lawyers Jackson Awele and John Njomo clashed on who between them was properly hired to represent the ousted officials and the party in the dispute over party leadership changes.

The two lawyers appeared before the Political Parties Disputes Tribunal (PPDT) claiming to be representing Jubilee Party, Mr Kioni, Mr Murathe and the party’s National Treasurer Kagwe Gichohi.

Legal representation

Mr Njomo told the tribunal that he had been instructed to take over the legal representation of the party from Mr Awele.

However, the notice of the change of advocates indicated that he was going to represent the party and the three officials.

But Mr Awele resisted the changes saying he was the one properly hired for the officials and the party.

He asked the tribunal to grant the complainants time to resolve the dispute on legal representation. 

Mr Njomo insisted on having his appointment confirmed, stating that “once a notice of change of advocates is filed and served, the former advocates should allow the new advocates to take up the matter”.

“We filed the notice of the change on March 6, 2023. No documents have been presented to demonstrate that Jubilee Party still intends to retain Awele Jackson Advocates LLP in the conduct of this matter. Without such, we have the right to represent Jubilee and our expectation is that we will discharge that mandate from the point we served our counterpart with the notice,” said Mr Njomo.

The confusion prompted the tribunal to adjourn the hearing to March 10, 2023 and directed Mr Awele and Mr Njomo to engage their clients and solve the dispute on representation.

Interim orders

The lawyer for the newly elected officials protested the postponement and said that the move was intended to allow Mr Murathe, Mr Kioni and Mr Kagwe to continue occupying the office.

“There are interim orders in place and there is an NDC meeting planned and scheduled for March 23. This confusion is aimed to delay and ensure this matter is overtaken by events to allow the meeting to be held,” said Mr Muriu. He was representing the newly elected officials.

The case was coming for hearing of an objection raised by the said officials challenging the authority of the tribunal to hear and determine the complaints lodged by Mr Kioni, Mr Murathe and Mr Kagwe.

Mr Muriu said the case was prematurely filed before the tribunal. He said the complainants should have first subjected the complaints to the internal dispute resolution mechanisms before moving to the tribunal.

“The appeal offends the doctrine of exhaustion of internal administrative remedies as the applicants have not exhausted the remedies provided under Jubilee Party’s Constitution and Section 40 of the Political Parties Act,” says Mr Muriu in the objection. The case was adjourned to March 10, 2023.