The Ford-Kenya splinter group that is opposed to Bungoma Senator Moses Wetang’ula’s leadership has challenged a court’s capacity to resolve a row that rocked the party in May.
Dr Eseli Simiyu, who was elected Secretary-General of the faction led by Kanduyi MP Wafula Wamunyinyi, has questioned the High Court’s jurisdiction over the wrangles that followed a coup.
When the case came up for hearing on Monday, Dr Simiyu told Justice James Makau that the High Court lacks the power to handle the matter.
But Ford-Kenya’s lawyer Ben Millimo opposed the application, noting that under the law, the High Court can resolve any dispute.
Justice Makau directed Dr Simiyu’s lawyers to file a substantive application within three days explaining how and why the court cannot resolve the dispute.
He directed Mr Millimo, who is representing the party alongside Eunice Lumallas, Dr John Khaminwa and Law Society of Kenya Nelson Havi, as well as Mr Wetang’ula, to respond in three days.
Justice Makau extended orders barring Registrar of Political Parties (RPP) Ann Nderitu from recognising the Simiyu/Wamunyinyi faction as the bonafide Ford-Kenya leadership team.
The case will be mentioned on July 9.
The judge restored Mr Wetang’ula’s leadership pending the outcome of the case.
He added that the issue of jurisdiction will be determined before those Mr Millimo raised.
“Once a court’s jurisdiction to hear a matter is questioned, it should always be determined first since jurisdiction is everything in every litigation,”Justice Makau said.
Ford-Kenya has named the RPP as the respondent in the case while Dr Simiyu and Mr Wamunyinyi are interested parties.
Mr Wetang’ula moved to court to sort out a mess in the party occasioned by a coup which ousted him on May 31.
When it heard the member, the Political Parties Disputes Tribunal, whose members are Desina Mugo, Milly Lwanga (chairperson) and Adelaide Mbithi , asked the party to resolve it using its internal mechanisms.
Ford-Kenya’s disciplinary committee summoned the faction.
On June 15, the court restrained the RPP from registering the faction until the case filed by Mr Millimo is heard and determined.
Ms Nderitu had announced the faction in a Gazette notice but its operations were suspended pending determination of the case.