BY SAM ALFAN.
The High Court has dismissed all petition seeking to bar former Nairobi governor Mike Sonko from contesting the forthcoming polls stating that the case was filed prematurely.
The former City boss is the Wiper Party Mombasa Gubernatorial candidate. Opinion polls indicates Sonko has high chances of becoming the next Mombasa Governor.
A bench of three judges ruled that the petition against Sonko, Paul Thang’wa and Nakuru Town West MP Samuel Arama, is a pre-election issue and should have been filed before the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) dispute resolution committee, before moving to the High Court.
Justices David Majanja, Chacha Mwita and Mugure Thande said since the matter had been presented before the dispute committee, it should run its course. “The jurisdiction of this court should not be invoked until that process is exhausted,” the judges said.
“We find and hold that petitions relating to the nomination process concerning Miko Sonko, Paul Thang’wa and Samuel Arama are premature. We therefore decline jurisdiction”, ruled judges.
The committee separately barred Sonko and Thang’wa from contesting, saying they had been impeached. Sonko has already filed an appeal saying a case challenging his impeachment is pending before the Supreme Court.
A total of nine petitions had been filed before the bench seeking interpretation of various chapters of the constitution.
The petition against Sonko was that he is disqualified from holding any other State office including the office of the Governor of Mombasa County.
The court heard that any person who has been dismissed or otherwise removed from office by way of impeachment or through other disciplinary procedure is disqualified from holding State office.
The petition said Sonko is therefore barred from being elected, appointed, designated, employed or otherwise recruited to serve in any other state office.
On Thang’wa, the court heard that he was impeached as the Kiambu county executive committee member for Youth Affairs, Sports, ICT and Communication in 2019.
Although Mike Sonko admits that his impeachment was upheld by the High Court and the Court of Appeal, he contends that the petitions are premature because the petition is pending before the Supreme Court.
“The net effect of this decision is that pre-election disputes such as those regarding suitability and eligibility for nomination of candidates, must be resolved by the IEBC in the first instance. The High Court’s jurisdiction is only triggered once the IEBC makes a decision on the issue,” the judges said.
The judges said the Supreme Court has emphasised before that the issue of the suitability of a candidate ought to be brought before the IEBC in the first instance and pursued from there.