The Court of Appeal in Nyeri on Monday adjourned the hearing of Embu Governor Martin Wambora’s case against a High Court ruling that nullified his election after one of the leading counsels could not make it to court.
The court was told that lawyer Wairimu Rugaita, who is representing Deputy Governor David Kariuki in the case, broke her leg early this month and was scheduled to undergo a medical surgery on Monday at midday.
Ms Rugatia had sent lawyer Lucy Mwai, who was not familiar with the case, to appear on her behalf and produce medical reports to support her absence.
Ms Mwai sought adjournment saying she needed time to familiarize herself with the appeal.
While addressing a three judge-bench comprising of Justice Patrick Kiage, Fatuma Sichale and Sankale Ole Kantai, Ms Mwai said she got instructions to appear before the court on May 18, 2018.
“There was no time to prepare,” said Ms Mwai while pleading for adjournment as she was blank about the appeal.
Lawyers Ahmednassir Abdullahi for Mr Wambora, Tom Ojienda for former Senator Lenny Kivuti and Mwangi Kibicho of the electoral commission did not oppose the application.
But they said they were ready to proceed.
While allowing the adjournment, the judges cautioned the lawyers about the strict timelines imposed by the Election Act on dealing with poll petitions.
“The appeal was filed on March 20, 2018 and we should have rendered a judgment by September 19, 2018. There are other appeals which are listed back to back,” said Justice Kiage.
The court directed the case be struck off from the hearing list as it was adjourned to June 5, 2018 when the lawyers will convince the judges to either uphold the High Court decision or overturn it.
In the appeal, Governor Wambora wants the second highest court in the land, to set aside the High Court judgment and also dismiss the petition that was filed by Mr Kivuti.
Mr Kivuti vied for the gubernatorial seat on a Maendeleo Chap Chap party ticket during the last General Election.
Mr Wambora has faulted Justice William Musyoka, of the High Court in Embu, for ruling that the governorship election in the county was marked by massive irregularities that compromised the integrity of the electoral process.
He argued that the court initially prejudiced the governor for allowing interference with the electoral materials without his presence.
He has also disputed the court’s decision to order the governor to pay Sh2 million costs of the petition, saying the judge misdirected himself in his findings.