Supreme Court defers ruling on applications

SUNDAY AUGUST 27 2017 | By Daily Nation

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Supreme Court judges hold the pre-trial conference on the presidential election petition at the Supreme Court on August 26, 2017. PHOTO | JEFF ANGOTE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

The ruling on the applications filed by the parties in the presidential election petition has been deferred to 7pm, Supreme Court Registrar Esther Nyaiyaki has said.

During the pre-trial conference on Saturday night, the Court, headed by Chief Justice David Maraga, and the parties had settled on 2pm as the time for the ruling.

Additionally, Ms Nyaiyaki said the hearing of the main petition will start on Monday at 9am.

HOSTILE

On Saturday, after the exchanges had ended at the pre-trial conference and the crowd in the courtroom was dispersing, Senior Counsel Ahmednassir Abdullahi was overheard on the TV microphones complaining about the atmosphere in the room.

He described the environment as hostile and compared it to the hot and dry weather of Afghanistan.

The Senior Counsel had drawn the attention of the judges to the matter as the first court session in the case where the National Super Alliance is challenging the re-election of President Uhuru Kenyatta.

SPACE

While the lack of time has been one of the most cited issues in the case, the lack of space in the room where the highest court sits has also become evident.

“Since there are a lot of parties here and there is a lot of documentation, could the court kindly facilitate a better environment than this?

“Some of the authorities when we are submitting disappear,” Mr Abdullahi said.

He suggested that each of the three parties in the case have two or three of their lawyers occupy the front seats when they are making their oral submissions so that the main lawyers would have a good environment.

LAWYERS
Mr Abdullahi had a good point there. Of the 26 lawyers in the three parties in the case, only six spoke at the pre-trial hearing.

Three others representing those who wanted to be involved in the case also spoke.

But the room was full to the rafters. That it was warm was evidenced at one point when television cameras zoomed in on Tharaka-Nithi Senator Kithure Kindiki with his eyes shut.

That it was full was evident in the fact that some of the lawyers, like Jackson Awele in Mr Odinga’s team, spent most of the time standing, which Chief Justice David Maraga said would not be allowed.

LIVE COVERAGE
Mr Otiende Amollo, who is part of the team representing Mr Odinga, made the suggestion that the front bench be occupied by lawyers for the party making their case at any particular time.

“It allows the space,” he said.

Justice Maraga said the lawyers not representing anybody should squeeze themselves in the back of the room.

He said the television screens mounted outside the courtroom were for the public to follow as there was not enough room to accommodate a substantial number of people.

The lack of space in the small room hosting the big case had caught the attention of others watching.

ADVENTIST
Dr Joyce Nyairo, who is a cultural analyst, pointed this out on Twitter, where she said: “The court is the bench not the room. This hearing should have been moved to KICC. Tons of chairs and oxygen for all.”

Ms Betty Murungi, a lawyer, lamented the fact that there were few members of the public in the room.

“Supreme courts the world over make provision for the public.

“You’ve seen the overnight queues ahead of Scotus (Supreme Court of the United States). This must be addressed,” she said on Twitter.

The court sat from 7.30pm on Saturday because Justice Maraga is a strict Adventist and cannot work on a Saturday before sunset.

CHURCH
Some of the lawyers, and Deputy Chief Justice Philomena Mwilu, mentioned the church as they discussed what time on Sunday would be most appropriate to sit again.

“I am a communicant member of the Anglican Church and a former chancellor of that church but I do know that there is that passage in the Bible where one is permitted to pull out a donkey if it falls into a hole,” Mr Paul Muite, who is leading the team representing the electoral commission, said.

Justice Mwilu added to the considerations of those wishing to go to church on Sunday, and those who “need time to do their make-up”, like herself.

TIME

She bristled at the suggestion by Attorney General Githu Muigai that the judges give the lawyers an extra day by sending their rulings on email rather than take the time to read them out in the court.

“When you talk about getting an extra day, you are getting that day from us and you are the same people who have been talking about that you do not want a one-minute ruling.

“So, do not have mercy on us. We have not been sleeping the last few days but we are still okay,” Justice Mwilu said.

When Mr Orengo asked the court to have the IEBC supply paginated copies of the documents they have already submitted, Mr Muite appeared to criticize Nasa’s approach to the case, saying:

“The approach appears to be quite close to Njuri Ncheke. You have a document, you want to change it…”

MARRIAGE

But Mr Orengo would have none of that and sprung to his feet, accusing Mr Muite of being unfair.

“Njuri Ncheke, I’m not a member of that clan,” he said, looking daggers at his counterpart.

The Senior Counsel is married to Ms Murungi, who comes from Meru, where the council of elders is called Njuri Ncheke.

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