Embu Governor Martin Wambora has become the third county chief to lose an election petition case, joining his Wajir counterpart Mohamed Abdi and Homabay’s Cyprian Awiti.
High Court Thursday ruled that Mr Wambora’s second term election was marred by irregularities. In a tension filled court room, judge William Musyoka said the votes recount and scrutiny had unearthed irregularities, which cast the August 8 gubernatorial contest in doubt.
He said that though the petitioner, former Senator Lenny Kivuti had not applied for nullification of the exercise, the court was duty bound to call for it after the anomalies were detected late after the recount and scrutiny.
Mr Wombara, known for his proverbial nine lives, could wait for the Senate to declare his seat vacant and face a subsequent electoral contest or take the appeal route already favoured by Mr Abdi and Mr Awiti.
Mr Awiti has appealed a High Court decision which found that the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) did not conduct free and fair elections in his county.
Similarly, Mr Abdi is contesting a ruling which found that he did not have a valid undergraduate degree certificate and the election was marred by irregularities.
In Embu, Justice Musyoka said that in some polling stations, the number of votes cast exceeded what was captured in counterfoils, while ballot for 26 polling stations didn’t have Forms 37 A.
He, however, absolved Mr Wambora of any blame saying the irregularities were linked to the polling officials who were either tired during tallying or were careless.
In his first term, Mr Wambora became the first governor to have his tenure interrupted when in 2014, he faced twin impeachments following a fallout with county politicians.
The impeachments were, however, overturned by the court, a move that won him the title of governor with the proverbial nine lives.
Unlike the previous term, Mr Wambora currently enjoys overwhelming support from Senator Njeru Ndwiga, MPs John Muchiri (Manyatta) and his Runyenjes counterpart Eric Muchangi, Embu County Assembly Speaker Josiah Thiriku, his protégé and over half the 33 MCAs.
He has also been enjoying a cordial working relationship with deputy governor David Kariuki, whom he has allocated supervisory role in the executive.
Between 2013 and 2017, Mr Wambora had a frosty working relationship with his deputy Dorothy Nditi, who was sidelined from the running of the county affairs.
Mr Kivuti also enjoys massive support especially from his Mbeere backyard, a fact compounded by Mr Wambora’s appointment to key posts of people from Embu community.