Lawyers compiling the National Super Alliance (Nasa) petition challenging President Uhuru Kenyatta’s election victory were forced to seek refuge at Raila Odinga’s Nairobi residence to evade a crackdown from suspected agents of the State.
Members of the legal team who spoke to the Sunday Nation on condition of anonymity for fear of retribution from the State said they were forced to shift base three times between Wednesday and Friday to evade raids from suspected police and intelligence officers.
The team, which was coordinated by Mr Odinga’s legal adviser Paul Mwangi, also had to contend with infiltration from suspected intelligence officers as well as defections that saw three key lawyers “disappear” on Friday and fail to append their signatures to the final document, forcing the opposition coalition to look for replacements to sign the document barely four hours to the Friday midnight deadline.
“Three very critical experts, when it came to signing the papers at the very tail end of the exercise, switched off their phones and disappeared.
"Luckily, they were not working alone so we got other lawyers to take over, given the strict timelines we were operating under,” our source said.
According to the lawyers who spoke to the Sunday Nation, the team had just under 48 hours to put together a water-tight case for the nullification of the presidential results following Mr Odinga’s declaration on Wednesday that he would, after all, challenge the outcome that saw President Kenyatta declared the winner.
“He gave us 48 hours to put together a solid case. We had to identify a team of about 30 lawyers, many of them volunteers, to undertake the task.
"We had drafters of the petition itself and those handling the affidavits; we had another team dealing with research on law and others analysing the evidence available; it was a big team working round the clock to beat the Friday midnight deadline,” the source said.
The lawyers said they were raided by persons they believe to have been undercover police officers thrice between Wednesday night and Thursday afternoon, forcing them to shift base every time they were raided.
“Following the third raid on our secret operational base, it was decided that we shift base to Raila’s home in Karen.
"That was the only safe location we could operate from. We were being hunted down like rabbits,” he said.
Also working with the team of lawyers who included MPs-elect Otiende Amollo (Rarieda), Opondo Kaluma (Homa Bay Town), Anthony Oluoch (Mathare) and Tom Kajwang’ (Ruaraka) was an “army” of clerks numbering about 100, the sources revealed.
“Of course we had to vet the volunteer lawyers and the clerks to ensure our team was not infiltrated by the other side.
"We turned away quite a number because we did not trust their intentions. The lawyers we settled on had to be agreeable to our core team of lawyers,” the source added.
The team kept its distance from the five Nasa principals during the hectic 48 hours, with Mr Orengo acting as the link between the two groups.
“They (principals) gave us a free hand to work, they did not interfere at all.
"If we wanted any direction or clarification, we got in touch through Orengo or Mwangi (Paul),” one of the lawyers said.
The lawyers revealed the anxiety that gripped them as the Friday midnight deadline fast approached yet heavy work still remained.
“The disappearance of the three experts jolted us a bit.
"Coming barely four hours to the deadline, we had to move fast to secure fresh signatures before we took the entire document to the principals for their affidavits.
"We ended up taking the documents to Raila and Kalonzo to append their signatures on the affidavits at 10pm, just two hours to the deadline,” one of the lawyers said.
It was not until 10.34pm that the Nasa team of lawyers led by Mr Amollo and Mr Oluoch delivered the first batch of documents at the Supreme Court.
Alongside lawyer Jackson Awele, whose law firm Murumba & Awele Advocates played a key role in the petition, the Nasa team of lawyers is said to have left the Supreme Court in the early hours of Saturday after spending the better part of the night arranging the documents for easy reference by the various parties to the case.
The Sunday Nation learnt that the Nasa principals will Sunday meet with the legal team led by Mr Orengo and Mr Mwangi to discuss the list of lawyers who will prosecute their petition.