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October 19, 2018

I won Kisii governor race fairly and by big margin, Ongwae tells court

Kisii Governor James Ongwae with his lawyer Okong'o Omogeni (C) during the hearing of the petition against his win, December 6, 2017. /BENSON NYAGESIBA
Kisii Governor James Ongwae with his lawyer Okong'o Omogeni (C) during the hearing of the petition against his win, December 6, 2017. /BENSON NYAGESIBA

Governor James Ongwae has told the High Court that he was fairly and validly elected with a big margin during the August 8 general election.

He said IEBC conducted the polls in a fair and transparent manner, and added that a few transposition errors of results from forms37A to 37B will not change the final outcome.

The governor, while giving his testimony on Wednesday, urged the court to dismiss the petition filed by Joel Makori - a voter.

On Tuesday, Justice Hellen Omondi dismissed the petition filed by Lumumba Nyaberi on grounds that it was defective.

More on this: One petition against Ongwae dismissed for being defective

Read: Throw out 'incurably defective' petition, Ongwae tells Kisii court

The Governor, who contested on an ODM ticket, told Justice Omondi that the margin between him and Chris Obure, who came second, cannot be disputed.

Ongwae emerged the winner with 206, 164 votes a margin against Obure's 100,760.

Represented by lawyer Okongo Omogeni, he said the petitioner, who was a chief Jubilee agent, accepted the results by signing form 37A.

"I was validly elected by the people of Kisii county. There was absolutely no complaint from anybody, not even after the declaration of results," Ongwae told the court.

"The votes I scored in this election were almost as many as those I scored in the 2013 elections. The will of Kisii residents must prevail," he added.

During the cross-examination by Edward Begi, who held brief for the petitioner's lead lawyer Omwanza Ombati, Ongwae denied knowing that a county employee who participated in the election may have favoured him.

Begi pointed out that one Naftal Obwocha was appointed an ODM agent and that there was a payslip with the same name, of a person recognised a county worker.

However, Ongwae told the court he did not know the person since the county has over 6,000 workers.

Asked whether he had any problem if agents failed to sign forms 37A, Ongwae said county returning officer Sidney Namulungu followed procedures in announcing the results.

IEBC lawyer Charles Rigoro said transposition errors affected all the other eight candidates so they will not change the final outcome, considering the margin.

"We did not receive any contention on the votes garnered by Ongwae who is the third respondent in this petition," Rigoro said.

Read: Result alterations in 196 centres helped Ongwae win – petitioner

On claims of manipulation of the voters register, the Governor said: "The register used in the elections was put in the Kenya Gazette by IEBC for transparency and accountability purposes, so I do not see any manipulation."

The petitioner made an application for recount and scrutiny in some polling stations. The hearing was set for December 13.

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