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Judge withdrawn from petition hearing

21 August 2013, 10:36 Wangui Joseph

Nyeri - A Nyeri High court judge has been withdrawn from hearing a Laikipia North petition, after it was reinstated by the Court of Appeal.

The three-bench-judge court presided by Alnasir Visram, Martha Koome and Otieno Odiek dismissed the ruling previously made by Justice James Wakiaga and said that the petitioner ought to be heard, but before another judge.

The suit filed by Richard Nchapi Leiyagu is challenging the election of Mathew Lekidime Lerpukel as Laikipia North MP after the March 4 polls.

Wakiaga had dismissed the petition on grounds that the petitioner and his counsel failed to turn up in court according to the dates that were fixed and agreed by all parties in court. They were to do their submissions on June 10 and 11 this year but they turned up on June 13.

In their absence, the MP’s lawyer made filed an application to have the petition thrown out, saying the petitioner did not take the matter seriously and the court ruled in his favour.

When they turned up in court, the petitioner’s lawyer Manasses Mwangi gave reasons as to why they skipped the appointed dates but the judge went ahead and read the ruling he had prepared.

The petitioner sought for reinstatement and review of the ruling but his efforts were futile and thus he moved to the court of appeal seeking a review of the order.

Wakiaga had said that even if the matter was properly before the court, there were no provisions in the Elections Act allowing reinstatement or review of a dismissed petition.

While delivering the ruling, the judges observed that the failure by the petitioner to attend court sessions could not have amounted to a dismissal since he offered an explanation and was apologetic.

They said the judge would have proceeded to hear the petition on merit and a lot of time which was wasted by the court in filing the appeal could have been utilized in hearing of the petition.

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