ODM leader Raila Odinga and his Nasa co-principals appear to be off the hook after a French firm that supplied information technology equipment during last year’s elections signalled its intention to withdraw a defamation suit against them.
Safran and OT-Morpho, which provided electronic systems that identified Kenyan voters and transmitted last year’s election results, has filed a notice to withdraw the case, which was before High Court Judge Joseph Sergon.
The firm, listed as Idemia Identity and Security France in the case documents, did not however give reasons why it made the decision to withdraw the case against Mr Odinga, Wiper Leader Kalonzo Musyoka, ANC’s Musalia Mudavadi and Ford Kenya’s Moses Wetangula in what may appear as an extension of the handshake to the corridors of justice.
The judge, in his response last Thursday, agreed with the request.
What now remains to be settled is payment of the costs of the suit. The case was filed in the High Court on April 17 by CM Advocates LLP.
“This matter is to be mentioned on July 25 before the deputy registrar for further directions and order on the question touching on costs,” Justice Sergon ordered.
In the suit, the firm together with its managers Laurent Lambert, Alex Lambert and Bavly Farag had sued the three opposition leaders, alongside two media houses — Nation Media Group and Radio Africa — for allegedly publishing defamatory statements made by the trio against it concerning the August 8, 2017 General Election.
The French company says that during and after the election politicians made statements insinuating that it had engaged in irregularities, without bothering to verify the facts and despite knowing the claims they were making were false.
The statements, they added, damaged their reputation as it portrayed them as corrupt and unethical.
The company, in its suit papers, says that articles in question purport that it helped rig the 2017 election, hence, tarnishing its reputation.
They as a result wanted the court to issue an order compelling the media houses and the four politicians to pull down all articles already published on different social media platforms, such as Twitter, Facebook and online relating to the company and the conduct of the general election.
Mr Odinga, Mr Musyoka and Mr Mudavadi had already filed their responses to the suit while denying allegations raised against the sued parties.
Mr Odinga argued that his statements against the company were made in public interest hence were critical in the advancement of democracy and good governance.
“Mr Odinga has acquired status of an elder statesman and with it the legal, social and moral obligation to champion political, social and economic issues of public interest on behalf of the people of Kenya,” said his lawyers from the firm of Awele & Co. Advocates.
Safran supplied IEBC with the Sh3.8 billion KIEMS kits used to biometrically identify voters during last year’s elections.