Outspoken Nandi Hills MP Alfred Keter has been handed a political lifeline after the Court of Appeal upheld his election victory which had been nullified by the high Court in March.
On Wednesday, judges Erastus Githinji, Fatuma Sichale and Hannah Okwengu sitting in Eldoret ruled that the MP was validly elected.
Justice Githinji, who delivered the ruling on behalf of the other judges, said the petitioner, Bernard Kitur, did not prove claims that Mr Keter engaged in election malpractice by campaigning beyond stipulated the time.
“The petitioner did not prove that the MP committed [an] election offence by campaigning after the stipulated time and [allegations of] bribing voters as he relied on hearsay and his (Keter’s) win is hereby upheld,” ruled Justice Githinji.
“The conduct did not amount to campaign in law as it had no substantial effect on the outcome of the elections,” added the judges in the ruling.
Through his lawyer Otiende Amollo, Mr Keter dismissed claims that he campaigned beyond the stipulated time as he was exercising his freedom of association as stipulated in the Constitution.
The court argued that even if the 2,000 votes on the three polling stations where an election malpractice was committed were added to the petitioner’s votes, it would not have any effect on the outcome of the election.
On March 1, Eldoret High Court Judge Kanyi Kimondo declared that Mr Keter was not validly elected on August 8, 2017 “as the Nandi Hills parliamentary election was not held in a free and fair environment”.
In his ruling, Justice Kimondo said there was sufficient evidence to prove that the Jubilee MP conducted illegal campaigns on August 6 and 7.
But Mr Keter contested the decision resulting to the Wednesday ruling by the Court of Appeal.
Immediately after the ruling, Mr Keter’s jubilant supporters poured into the streets of Eldoret town in celebrations.