Minister Achieng petition on

Thursday July 28 2011

By John Augustine


The State Minister for Lands, Ms Sarah Achieng Opendi, also Tororo Woman MP, has lost round one of an election petition filed against her by FDC’s Keziah Nyakecho Ochwo, after her application to stall the hearing of the case was thrown out with costs.

Ms Ochwo through her lawyer, Mr Aggrey Bwire, filed a petition to contest the results, citing malpractices. However, Ms Achieng through her lawyer, Mr Frank Kanduho, filed an objection on grounds that the petition had been filed after the stipulated time, but it was not considered.

Justice Rugadya Atwoki in his ruling observed that the hearing had to continue because all the available documentary evidence in his files indicated that the case had been filed within the stipulated time and set tomorrow and Saturday as the days for the hearing.

Ms Achieng, who attended the ruling of another petition filed by Mr Yeri Ofwono against Tororo Municipality MP Sanjay Tanna in the morning, was at the time of her own case, as reported by her lawyer, in Nairobi for State duties.
Justice Atwoki rejected pleas from Ms Achieng’s lawyer to be given more time to prepare his submissions on grounds that an ample time had already been given for that process.

Meanwhile, in the earlier judgment, Justice Atwoki threw out an election petition against Tororo Municipality MP Sanjay Tanna, sending Tanna and his supporters into wild celebrations throughout the day.

Former MP Apollo Yeri Ofwono filed a petition after the February 18 polls citing bribery of voters, defamation by Mr Tanna during campaigns and lack of academic qualifications. But Justice Atwoki ruled that there was no substantial evidence to all the three counts to justify nullification of the results.

Mr Ofwono’s lawyer, Mr Hassan Kamba, had argued in the petition that Mr Tanna had different names in different academic papers presented to the Electoral Commission and in his voters card and passport. But Justice Atwoko ruled that there was all evidence that the academic papers contested belong to Mr Tanna and that a person has the right and freedom to change his names or choose which of his or her names to use in a different document such as a passport or voters card.

Justice Atwoko did not, however, slap costs on Mr. Ofwono. In another developmen,t the hearing of an election petition case filed by ex-state Minister for Labour Emmanuel Otaala against his challenger in the February 18 polls, Mr Oboth Oboth, began yesterday.