Court Quashes CJ Koome's Rules on Presidential Petition

  • Chief Justice Martha Koome reading her ruling on the BBI Appeal at the Supreme Court on March 31, 2022.
    Chief Justice Martha Koome reading her ruling on the BBI Appeal at the Supreme Court on March 31, 2022.
    File
  • High Court has annulled Chief Justice Martha Koome's decision to prohibit lawyers and litigants from commenting on social media platforms during the presidential election petition. 

    Through a verdict delivered by Justice Mugure Thande on Wednesday, August 17, the Presidential Election Petition Amendment Rules 2022 was declared unconstitutional for not adhering to Public Participation requirements.

    Justice Mugure further noted that the directive usurped the National Assembly's powers.

    Koome issued the directive during the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) hearing at the Supreme Court, where some lawyers predicted the ruling. 

    Lady Justice Martha Koome while she delivered judgments and rulings of the Court of Appeal via Skype on April 24, 2020.
    Lady Justice Martha Koome while she delivered judgments and rulings of the Court of Appeal via Skype on April 24, 2020.
    File

    In her argument, Koome explained that lawyers' comments on social media would prejudice the court's final verdict. 

    "Upon commencement of the hearing of the petition by the court, litigants, their advocates and advocates’ agents shall refrain from expressing their opinion on merit, demerit or predict the outcome of the petition in any manner that would prejudice or impede court proceedings, until judgment is delivered," she stated.

    While warning litigants, Koome maintained that those found culpable of breaching the rule would be punished.

    Before the judgement was delivered on March 31, some leaders took to different social media platforms to discuss and predict the case's outcome.

    After reading the verdict on the BBI, Koome faulted lawyers Nelson Havi, Ahmednasir Abdullahi and Esther Ang’awa for trying to influence the case through social media posts.

    "The contents of some of those commentaries were, in our view, meant to influence, intimidate or scandalise the court. This, unfortunately, is emerging and unless checked, it will erode the confidence and dignity of the courts," she stated.

    The amendment was Gazetted months before the August 9 General Election.

    The quashing of the directive comes just a day after Azimio la Umoja Presidential candidate Raila Odinga rejected the election outcome released by Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission announcing William Ruto as President-elect.

    Raila Odinga at KICC giving his speech to the Media about IEBC commission on August 16, 2022
    Raila Odinga addresses the media at KICC on Tuesday, August 16, 2022
    Kenyans.co.ke

    The former Prime Minister maintained that he would seek legal redress terming Chebukati's announcement as erroneous. He accused the IEBC chairperson of deliberately overturning the will of the people.

    "Our view in Azimio is clear, the figures by Wafula Chebukati are null and void and must be quashed by a court of law. In our view, there is neither a legally and validly declared winner nor a President-elect.

    "The law does not vest in the chairperson, the powers of a dictator to rule IEBC unilaterally. Decisions must be taken by consensus or by a vote of the majority," Raila stated.