The interpretation of the powers held by electoral commission chairman Wafula Chebukati dominated proceedings on the Supreme Court’s final day of hearing presidential petitions on Friday.
While lawyers for Mr Chebukati insisted that the chairman of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) has executive powers in tallying and verifying votes, petitioners argued that the constitution did not envision an imperial ruler.
Mr Odinga’s team argued that the Supreme Court does not need to issue an order to remove Mr Chebukati from office because the constitution protects rogue state officers.
“The makers of the constitution intended for the commission to have an executive chairperson.” We must follow the provisions of the constitution. Because of the doctrine of necessity, the chairperson rushed to judgment without the 27 constituency results, said counsel Kindiki in justification,” Mr Pheroze Nowrojee said on Mr Odinga’s behalf.
Mr Tom Macharia, representing Youth Advocacy Africa, argued that Mr Chebukati elevated himself to the position of returning officer for the presidential election without the necessary legislation, and then violated previous court decisions stating that polling station results are final.
Mr Macharia claimed that the IEBC chairman’s gaffes began before Kenyans cast their ballots. He questioned why the electoral commission chose Smartmatic, a company accused of causing election postponements in Nigeria, to print ballots for Kenya’s elections.
Earlier in the day, Mr Chebukati’s legal team defended his decision to declare William Ruto the president-elect before reading out results from 27 constituencies that had been pending since August 15.
Mr George Murugu argued that Mr Chebukati was concerned about the safety of IEBC employees, who he claimed were being detained by anti-terror police.
“He gave thought to his staff, who were dealing with arrests, abductions, and even injuries to commissioners at the time.” “There was also a legitimate expectation (on the part of the public) that the results would be announced on August 15, as stated that morning,” Mr Murugu added.