A judge has declined to transfer or consolidate the BBI signature verification petition with other suits in Nairobi.
MUHURI filed the case at Mombasa High Court to stop the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) from verifying and certifying BBI signatures.
MUHURI also wants parliament to enact comprehensive legal framework, including regulations—which are missing—to guide verification and certification.
The case followed IEBC’s admission to MUHURI that it does not maintain a database of specimen signatures of registered voters. The electoral body disclosed it relies on “biographic and biometric data” in verification, which is not recognized by law.
IEBC responded to access to information request by the chairman of MUHURI Board of Directors, Khelef Khalifa. Khalifa queried signature verification cost and related rules, referendum expense, and voters’ specimen signatures and continues registration.
IEBC and BBI—an interested party—wanted the case transferred from Mombasa to Nairobi and merged with other BBI-related cases before a five-judge bench. However, MUHURI counsel, Carolene Kituku noted issues raised in the signature verification case are distinct and do not warrant a consolidation or transfer.
And on January 25, judge Erick Ogola ruled: “The court has no power to transfer the petition without hearing parties.”
Ogola ruled he will hear MUHURI application for conservatory orders first.
“I direct parties to file skeleton submission on the application for conservatory orders within five days [from January 25]. The ruling will be within two days after submissions,” Ogola said, setting the mention on February 1.
BBI steering committee presented to IEBC signatures it claimed totalled to 4.4 million to support Constitution Amendment Bill, 2020. The Bill, among other changes, wants to alter the Executive structure and introduce the office of Prime Minister and two deputies.
But the process leading to this Bill has been controversial. It was not a popular initiative but a deal by President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM leader, Raila Odinga, ostensibly to create more political seats. And this is why MUHURI challenged the process in court.
Out of 4.4 million BBI signatures, IEBC on January 21 published 1.3 million and asked voters to confirm if they indeed signed.
Ahead of this publication, IEBC had on January 14 failed to show up in the BBI signature verification suit. One of the orders MUHURI sought was stopping the Commission from undertaking—or continuing with—the verification.
The speakers of the National Assembly and the Senate are still a no-show in this case. They are the second and third respondents.