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Drama in court as election petition is withdrawn

Drama ensued in the High court as a petition against the decision to let more presidential candidates in next week’s repeat election was withdrawn. The court proceeding was rocked with Claims of bribery and an eleventh-hour change of lawyers representing Abraham Kiplagat, who had petitioned the High Court judgment that allowed five other presidential candidates for the October 26 poll.

The court had passed a judgment allowing Thirdway Alliance candidate Ekuru Aukot’s name to be added on the ballot for the fresh October 26 election. The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) referred to the ruling to open the doors to four other presidential candidates.

Lawyer Nelson Havi, who had earlier on been dropped by Mr. Kiplagat told Justices Alnasir Visram, Wanjiru Karanja, and Martha Koome that he was still representing Kiplagat. He theatrically alleged that his client was offered Sh7 million to pull out the case .Mr. Kiplagat had hired two new lawyers  Anthony Gitonga and Evans Lagat,and  instructed them  to withdraw the appeal.

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According to the Mr. Havi, Jubilee had come up to his client on Wednesday with two choices – money or his life. “My client called and told me he had been approached by Jubilee. He said his life was in danger if he fails to withdraw,” Havi claimed. Conversely, lawyer Gitonga told the court that Havi had refused to be served with a notice signifying that his services were no longer needed. Lawyer Tom Macharia, who was representing President Uhuru Kenyatta in the case, told the court that Havi’s claims were careless.

Lawyer Jackson Awele, for the NASA leader Raila Odinga, told the court that even though the client had chosen to select new lawyers, the case should advance to hearing. The judges asked whether Kiplagat was in court to clear up the issue of representation but he was not present. According to Gitonga, Kiplagat had a sick child in hospital and could not make it to court.

The judges released Mr.  Havi, seeing as there was a letter terminating his services. Gitonga told the court that his client wished to have the case withdrawn. The application was seconded by all parties, except Raila’s lawyer, who told the court the case was a matter of public interest. The judges, however, allowed the case to be withdrawn and ordered Kiplagat to pay the expenses.

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