The High Court sitting in Kisii has dismissed with costs a petition challenging the election of Hon. James Ongwae as Governor for Kisii County.
Justice Hellen Omondi ruled that Governor Ongwae and his Deputy Joash Maangi was validly elected and declared winners by the Independent Elections and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) in the August 8, 2017 polls.
Governor Ongwae won the polls after garnering 206,164 votes against his closest challenger Chris Obure who polled 110,164 votes. Former South Mugirango MP Manson Nyamweya was third with 53,073 votes.
In her ruling, Justice Omondi the errors cited in the petition were of human nature and when such errors don’t fundamentally affect the margin of victory, the court should not interfere.
"The duplicity of results was not widespread and there is a human, scientific and logical explanation to this because the election officials were tired and had not slept for a long period. An election is a human endeavour that is not carried out by programmed machines. Where there is no malice on the part of polling agents, we cannot nullify the election," she observed.
Voters Joel Makori Onsando and Francis Omao Mochoge had filed the petition on grounds of lack of credibility of the voters register, discrepancies in votes cast for the six different elections, use of County Government officials as poll agents and various poll malpractices.
Through their lawyers Edward Begi and Omwansa Ombati, the petitioners sought to have the court quash Governor Ongwae’s election and order a fresh poll.
Regarding discrepancies in the valid votes cast for presidential, gubernatorial, senatorial, County Assembly and parliamentary polls, Justice Omondi said there was an explanation to the same.
"It is possible that a voter can enter a polling station, be issued with six ballot papers but only choose to vote for their favourite candidates ignoring the rest hence the discrepancies," she said.
Addressing supporters outside the court, Governor Ongwae thanked God for the verdict. He thanked the people of Kisii County for voting for him overwhelmingly in the last general elections and pledged to work tirelessly to ensure the region develops.
"I want to thank my lawyers Counsel O’Mogeni and Wanyama for their good job. I also thank the judiciary for giving us a fair judgement. I would not forget my family who have stood with me during this difficult five months," he said.
He extended an olive branch to his political opponents asking them to join hands and develop Kisii County. "I was elected to serve all Kisii County residents including those who didn’t vote for me. I will work closely with my Deputy Joash Maangi, Senator Prof. Sam Ongeri and County MP Janet Ong’era to realize our vision," added a jubilant Ongwae.
Later, the leaders and their supporters marched through the streets of Kisii Town before converging at the Gusii Stadium for brief speeches. Senator Ongeri and Hon. Ong’era pledged to work with the Governor to actualize the aspirations of the electorate.