Orengo’s smear campaign cost MP seat – Court told
Siaya Senator James Orengo has become the centre of talk in the High Court after a judge cancelled the election victory of Ugenya MP Chris Karani.
Mr Orengo has been accused of spreading propaganda during the campaign period.
Mr Karani of ODM lost his seat on Thursday after his predecessor David Ochieng’ convinced the court that he could not campaign because his opponents had incited the crowds using propaganda.
But as Justice Tripsisa Cherere ruled that Mr Karani had profited from a “perverted” electioneering period, it is Mr Orengo’s name which was thrown at the centre of the chaos.
Mr Orengo, the court was told, had incited crowds, telling them that Mr Ochieng was a proxy of the ruling Jubilee Party even though he was running on his party, the Movement for Democracy and Growth.
The court was also told that Mr Orengo accused the then Ugenya MP of having a hand in the killing of IEBC’s technology chief Chris Msando.
Mr Msando was found murdered in Kiambu, just days to the August 8, 2017 General Election.
This is the second time a court has indicted Mr Orengo for running a smear campaign against his opponent.
In 2013, he and then Gem MP Jakoyo Midiwo, among other leaders, ran a smear campaign against governorship candidate William Oduol. The seat was then won by Mr Cornel Rasanga’s election.
Justice Aggrey Muchelule would then nullify Mr Rasanga’s victory as the county boss because of the smear campaign ran by the ODM brigade in 2013.
History repeated itself Thursday when the High Court in Kisumu dealt the party a blow after Justice Trispsisa Cherere ruled that former Ugenya MP David Ochieng successfully convinced the court that he could not seek votes during the run-up to the elections because his opponent in ODM had damaged the environment by claiming he had a hand in the killing of Mr Msando.
“I find that the campaign was perverted and compromised the integrity of the election. Siaya [being] a Raila Odinga’s backyard, linking Mr Ochieng to Jubilee affected the final results. These results did not pass the test of transparent and verifiable test,” the judge told a packed courtroom on Thursday.
Mr Ochieng had run on the Movement for Democracy and Growth (MDG) ticket after he defected from ODM.
But in the run up to the elections, Mr Msando was mysteriously murdered and his body found dumped alongside that of a female friend.
Facing hostility and unable to traverse the county in vote hunt, Mr Ochieng eventually lost the race.
He would lose the vote, but went to the High Court, not to dispute the figures announced, but to challenge the process of the vote.
The difference in the votes between the two was only 357 votes.
Mr Karani won the seat after garnering 23,775 votes against Mr Ochieng’s 23,418 votes.
This court decision mimics that of the Supreme Court which nullified the August Presidential election after finding the electoral process could not be verified.
HARD TO CAMPAIGN
Mr Ochieng alleged that the smear campaign claiming that he was involved in Msando’s death and being linked to the Jubilee Party in an opposition stronghold whipped up emotions among the people making it difficult to campaign.
Mr Msando hailed from Ugenya and his death upset many residents of Siaya, the home county of Nasa leader Raila Odinga.
“I was traumatised during the whole period, my family was at risk because of the allegations,” said Mr Ochieng.
He claimed in Court that Mr Orengo led the mudsling campaign against him.
The MP was accused of leading projects sponsored by the Jubilee Party in Ugenya, an ODM stronghold.
Mr Ochieng has promised the ODM party a tough battle for the Ugenya parliamentary seat.
However, Mr Karani has said he will be appealing the High Court’s decision.