Seven Supreme Court judges have ordered parties to the presidential election petition, their agents, supporters, and the public to stop discussing the case, nor the judges pending the determination of the matter, expected on September 1.
In directions to opposition leader Raila Odinga, his running mate Kalonzo Musyoka, President Uhuru Kenyatta, the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission and its chairman Wafula Chebukati, the court ordered restraint saying it was now handling the matter, warning against any attempt to discuss its merits outside the court.
“The petitioners, respondents, and any other party to the petition, including their agents, advisors or supporters, in adherence to the sub judice rule, are directed to refrain from prosecuting the merits of their case in any forum other than this court,” the Supreme Court judges said.
They warned: “The public should avoid making statements that are intended or which could be perceived as intended to direct the court on the conduct of the petition.”
The statement was signed by Chief Justice David Maraga, his deputy Philomena Mwilu, Justices Mohamed Ibrahim, Prof Jackton Ojwang, Dr Smokin Wanjala, Isaac Lenaola, and Lady Justice Njoki Ndung’u.
“Statements that profile individual judges in a manner likely to prejudice public opinion on the conduct of the petition should be avoided,” they said.
The Bench also warned the media against breaching its code of conduct under the law, while asking them to maintain its role of keeping the public informed.
Since the filing of the petition by Mr Odinga and Mr Musyoka on Friday, comments on the merits of the case, the Supreme Court judges, their biases, as well as the merits of the whole case have flooded mainstream media and social media circles.
Just a day after the case was filed, President Kenyatta’s lawyers and MPs elected on his Jubilee Party ticket went on an attacking spree dismissing the case as weak, and expressing their confidence of a win at Kenya’s apex court.
On Tuesday, Mr Odinga also commented on the case.
“The Supreme Court is made up of seven judges. The discretion of seven individuals, however wise, can neither represent nor substitute the voice of 15 million people,” Mr Odinga said in Mombasa during the swearing in of Governor Ali Hassan Joho.
“Seven individuals can be intimidated, they can be compromised and they can make genuine mistakes. Kenyans are still trying to understand what exactly happened in the Supreme Court in 2013 when a decision about their votes was delivered in minutes and a paragraph,” he said.