ODM under scrutiny for disobeying election-related tribunal orders

Catherine Mumma

ODM elections board chairperson Catherine Mumma.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

The Raila Odinga-led Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) is under scrutiny over claims that it disregarded tribunal orders in cases that arose from its nominations.

The party conducted its primaries last month, with results from several electoral units, particularly in Nyanza, where winning the ticket is almost a guarantee of victory in the General Election, being disputed. Most of the affected positions are parliamentary and ward seats.

Siaya County, Mr Odinga's political backyard, has produced the highest number of disputes and derailed the party's campaigns in the area, with aspirants being holed up at the Political Parties Disputes Tribunal (PPDT).

The affected constituencies are Gem, Alego Usonga and Bondo. In Kisumu, the Muhoroni parliamentary seat is also disputed.

One month after the primaries, it was expected that the disputes would have been heard, determined and the orders executed, but this has not been the case.

In Gem constituency, for example, incumbent MP Elisha Odhiambo's victory in the April 13 nominations had been upheld twice by the party’s disputes tribunal. It then went to the PPDT, which ordered ODM to give him a nomination certificate, but that is yet to be honoured.

Despite Mr Odhiambo's win against former area MP Jakoyo Midiwo's brother Dr Jalang'o Midiwo at the ODM tribunal, the party’s Central Management Committee (CMC) ignored the order and directed the National Elections Board (NEB) to issue Dr Midiwo with the ticket, leading to a legal quagmire.

On Thursday, Mr Odhiambo’s advocate, Mr Evans Oruenjo, told Nation.Africa that the MP was yet to receive his nomination certificate as ordered by the tribunal.

“We are yet to receive the certificate but we hope that the party will comply with the orders of the tribunal and issue my client with the nomination certificate,” Mr Oruenjo said.

It is worth noting that in 1997, Mr Odinga's then National Development Party (NDP) missed a chance to field a parliamentary candidate in Gem due to such legal complications, which led to the NDP candidate being time-barred.

In that election, Ford Kenya candidate Joe Donde clinched the seat after beating Kanu's Grace Ogot.

Read: Jakoyo brother controversially awarded ODM Gem ticket as opponent appeals
 In Alego Usonga, though incumbent MP Sam Atandi's win in the ODM primaries was upheld by the party's disputes tribunal, the PPDT nullified his victory, citing electoral irregularities, and ordered fresh elections by May 4 through universal suffrage.

This followed a successful appeal by his opponent, Dr Nicholas Kut.

The party, however, failed to hold the repeat polls, citing financial constraints, and instead sought a review of the verdict.

The parties would later agree to settle the matter through consensus, and on Friday May 6, Mr Atandi’s team and Dr Kut’s held their first meeting that was chaired by the NEB to agree on the details of their agreement. But ODM on Tuesday proceeded to issue the incumbent a nomination certificate.

This prompted Dr Kut’s legal team to head back to the tribunal, which then barred ODM from issuing a nomination certificate to Mr Atandi.

Dr Willy Mutubwa, the presiding member of the PPDT, restrained the party from submitting Mr Atandi’s name or that of any other person to the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) as its nominee for the Alego Usonga parliamentary seat.

“Pending [an] inter parties hearing of the complainant's application filed herein on 10th May 2022, the interested party is restrained from accepting, clearing and/or publishing in the Kenya Gazette the name of the second respondent or any other person as the first respondent's nominee,” he said.

Dr Kut’s advocate, Mr Leonard Okanda, said they were surprised that "the party departed from what was agreed and issued a direct ticket to Hon. Atandi without attempting to use consensus".

"Other than the party's conduct and actions running contrary to the said consent order, it is also dishonest and a clear demonstration that the nominations exercise was a sham from the beginning," Mr Okanda said.

In Bondo, ODM is yet to comply with another order to conduct repeat primaries in the constituency within 72 hours, time that has already elapsed.

The impasse followed a successful appeal by an aspirant, Andiwo Mwai, who contested incumbent Gideon Ochanda’s win.

In Muhoroni, the PPDT also ordered fresh elections within 72 hours by May 8 following a successful petition by Dr Hezron Mc’Obewa against MP James K’Oyoo’s win.

The matter still lies in abeyance as the party is yet to conduct fresh polls.

In Sabatia, Vihiga County, confusion has rocked ODM after two aspirants were issued with nomination certificates to contest the parliamentary seat in the August 9 General Election.

Both Ms Mercy Adema and Mr Kivihya Kidunduhu have certificates and claim they were each validly nominated to fly the ODM flag.

In Nambale, there was also confusion after the ODM ticket was handed to Mr Kevin Okwara instead of Mr James Mulanya, forcing him to seek independent tickets.

On Thursday, ODM elections board chairperson Catherine Mumma declined to comment on the matters.


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