Rival lawyers clash in Othaya petition hearing

Lawyers from the two rival camps in the Othaya parliamentary seat election petition yesterday clashed in court over the answers given by the sitting MP Mary Wambui.

The lawyers differed during the petition hearing at the High Court in Nyeri after the petitioner Peter King’ara interjected as his lawyer, Githinji Marete, was cross-examining Wambui.

King’ara, who is a partner at Gichuki King’ara and Advocates in Nairobi, told Justice Jairus Ngaah that he was uncomfortable with the way Wambui was answering questions.

He said Miller should not interrupt as his lawyer was asking questions. King’ara, who unsuccessfully vied for the seat, also claimed there was a ‘sacred cow’ in court who was not answering all questions.

“I want this court to give directions since I’m also intending to cross-examine the witness as a senior lawyer in the Gichuki King’ara and Advocates. I feel there is a sacred cow in this court,” King’ara said.

Trouble started when Marete insisted on knowing whether Wambui was aware that she got extra 40 votes at Kagunduini Tea Buying centre polling station. He claimed Form 36 had shown the discrepancy that was not captured in Form 35.

But Marete shot back, claiming that Wambui’s lawyer Cecil Miller was interrupting her in every question although he was following the court rules. King’ara said he will seek the court's permission to cross-examine Wambui.

But Miller wondered whether the petitioner had sacked his three lawyers at once and taken over the matter. “It’s not in order for the petitioner to walk from his seat and address the court. We want to know whether he has sacked all his lawyers in this court. Why is he not allowing his lawyers to do the work?" posed Miller.

Gichuki's three lawyers Githinji Marete, Kyalo Mbobu and Carol Kimere pensively watched the drama from their seats when the judge wondered whether there are plans to scuttle the petition.

“Are you challenging the way the court is handing the proceedings? I shall not engage in a shouting match with you King’ara. You are nowhere in this column of lawyers. You are the petitioner. If you feel aggrieved or if you feel you want to be listened in this court, make a formal application,” he said.

And King’ara was at pains to explain who the "sacred cow" he was referring to was. The proceedings later proceeded but King'ara remained on his feet although a seat had been reserved for him.

The matter was adjourned to Monday. The court was filled to capacity with supporters of Wambui and King’ara. IEBC lawyer Peter Munge also later cross examined Wambui who is the third respondent in the case.

The petitioner has filed an application in court seeking the scrutiny and recount of all Othaya votes and Wambui's academic background. She says she holds an O level certificate from British Council and a diploma in civic education. Ngaah will rule on the two petitions on Monday.

This article was published by The Star on July 10, 2013