Petitioner in Sonko poll case fails to show up over ‘threats’

The hearing of the petition challenging Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko’s victory hit a snag yesterday after petitioners failed to show up to give evidence. This was after one witness claimed he had received threatening messages. Japheth Muroko was scheduled to give evidence before Justice Msagha Mbogholi. But his lawyers said he was held up at the Kilimani police station, recording statements. Although he did not give more information, lawyer Antony Oluoch told the court that Muroko and his family received threats on their mobile phones on Saturday. He urged Mbogholi to order for his security within and outside the court. His co-petitioner Zacheus Okoth also failed to show up. “We are seeking an adjournment to allow the petitioner record statements with the police," lawyer Oluoch said. But Sonko said the threat claims were unsubstantiated and were meant to derail proceedings. His lawyers, Harrison Kinyanjui and Cecil Miller, asked why Okoth was not in court, yet he did not receive “threats”. “There is lack of credible evidence that these threats have been made. The petitioner must give the court an identifiable cell phone number,” lawyer Kinyanjui said. The lawyer further said his client would also like to know who issued the alleged threats and why. “Those sabotaging the case must be brought to book,” Kinyanjui said. Justice Mbogholi said there is no doubt the threats claim is serious, but said he did not understand why the petitioner had to wait until yesterday to report to the police. He ordered the two petitioners to avail themselves in the afternoon, but their lawyers returned later and told court that Muroko was still held up at the police station. The case will proceed today. Yesterday’s date was set in December after Sonko lost a bid to strike out the case. Sonko had faulted the two petitioners of failing to list Deputy Governor Polycarp Igathe as a respondent in the case. But Mbogholi dismissed his arguments and directed the petition to proceed to full hearing from January 8 without interruptions.