All eyes on Ohaga ahead of make or break ruling
- The heat is already soaring – so much so that it would easily scorch any loose arguments in the Football Kenya Federation (FKF) versus Sports Registrar case whose determination is set for tomorrow at the Sports Disputes Tribunal.
- Temperatures have been soaring following Saturday’s FKF County elections that, with their successful execution, meant the federation’s Electoral Board is just a step away to completing the electoral process of the repeat polls.
The heat is already soaring – so much so that it would easily scorch any loose arguments in the Football Kenya Federation (FKF) versus Sports Registrar case whose determination is set for tomorrow at the Sports Disputes Tribunal.
Temperatures have been soaring following Saturday’s FKF County elections that, with their successful execution, meant the federation’s Electoral Board is just a step away to completing the electoral process of the repeat polls.
This process has been bedecked by pitfalls – lots of it– and with such high stakes, all eyes and ears will shift to John Ohaga, the veteran advocate of the High Court who chairs the Tribunal when he swings to his chair, most likely by noon tomorrow to make his ruling.
Essentially, those voted at County level are part of the voters set to make the football decision on March 27, deciding who will constitute the National Executive Council (NEC) of the FKF.
And the FKF president? The delegates will have only one candidate to confirm – the incumbent Nick Mwendwa – whose candidature is unchallenged as his competitors gave the nomination process a wide berth arguing the process was skewed.
Nonetheless, the one major step remaining could be so near yet too far– depending on pronouncements of Ohaga when the SDT makes its ruling Tuesday.
A flashback to December 2019 helps give a picture of Tuesdays’ eagerly awaited ruling.
Just before the December 7, 2019 FKF national elections, the tribunal cancelled them and consequently nullified the branch (county) polls that had already taken place.
This was a big blow to the federation, as the SDT ruled in favour of a section of aggrieved FKF presidential hopefuls, who poignantly, questioned the 2019 Electoral Code.
The composition of the Electoral Board had been contested, with the presence of Prof. Edwin Wamukoya as the Chair and Elina Shiveka as a member rendering it illegal, according to the SDT.
Wamukoya was initially serving as the FKF Club Licensing Committee Chairman, while Shiveka is herself a member of the SDT.
Among the other issues related to the code, public participation was deemed to have been improperly conducted, and the SDT demanded that there be enough public participation in line with the 2010 constitution.
And so, the dream of Mwendwa and team to have elections completed months before expiry of his tenure was quashed. This set the federation into an odyssey, a perilous one, just like the ancient Greek Homer, who had two giants to deal with on his way to the land of promise.
Firstly, adhering to the Orders of the SDT meant a fresh start, from constituting a new Electoral Board, conducting an elaborate public participation, convening a Special General Meeting (SGM) for delegates to debate on the electoral code – and endorsement of the Board.
The process went on smoothly, until the SGM was convened. This happened on January 28, 2020 and with the massive support of ‘Team Blue’, as Mwendwa camp is fondly referred to, almost every vote was cast to endorse the recommendations of the NEC, regarding the code.
Second round of the duel
Noteworthy, the world football governing body FIFA gave a directive that the repeat elections that SDT had ordered be conducted by March 30, 2020. Thus, a strict schedule was to be set for the events leading to the polls, but was not to escape the ‘court stopover’.
Foreseeing a situation where the Sports Registrar would reject the results of the elections on grounds of non- compliance with the 2013 Sports Act, FKF went to SDT seeking orders to so bar such an eventuality. This situation, in football circles, has happened with AFC Leopards, in the elections that ushered the current office into leadership with Rose Wasike, the Sports Registrar, rejecting the results on among other reasons, the Sports Act.
That ignited the spark for second round of the duel.
On February 19 this year, FKF submissions surrounding the Sports Act 2013 were presented by Counsel Victor Omwebu of Litoro and Omwebu Advocates at the SDT.
In a nutshell, FKF offered that being duly registered under section 47 of the Sports Act 2013, it was rightful to proceed with the elections in accordance with own constitution.
But the Registrar was not alone, as several interested parties were enjoined and even made it more complicated.
While the Registrar held that FKF had failed to fulfill the requirements of Sports Act 2013, key was the issue of registering County Associations born under the current regime after the change of the initial branches structure.
Among the major issues raised by the interested parties was the alleged illegality of the SGM that constituted the Electoral Board, based on expiry of tenure of some of the delegates. Additionally, some clubs claimed to have been locked out of the sub-branch elections.
With the term of the current regime ending on February 10, 2020, another interested party told the SDT that FKF had no legal mandate to conduct any election. The prayer in this regard was the Cabinet Secretary for Sports is invited to appoint an interim committee to spearhead football matters before a road map to elections is elaborately drawn.
SDT, however, had given orders in the December ruling that the current office holders continue being in charge until election is held.
Another interested party wanted the tribunal’s interpretation of the FIFA standard Electoral Code, which the federation argues is a basic guideline on the elections. Among the issues therein, is the requirement that the Electoral Board should be in place six months before the elections, which was not the case with the Kentice Tikolo led team now steering the repeat polls.
Contempt of court
Former FKF president Sam Nyamweya on Sunday said the County elections held on Saturday were null and void, being conducted before the impending ruling.
“They (FKF) went to the SDT praying for orders which directly affect what they are already doing. This amounts to contempt of court…,” growled Nyamweya.
Even at the time of going to the tribunal, the elections train had taken off, at the preliminary stages.
With the timelines that FIFA had given to the conclusion of the elections, an interesting bit awaits Ohaga in the ruling with both arguments considered.
In an earlier interview, Mwendwa, on his part, said the individuals who boycotted nomination process yet insisted interest in elective positions lacked sincerity.
“They went to court and although did not agree with everything the court said, we respected the ruling. We changed the Electoral Board, did the public participation … Clearly, even if we repeat 10 times, they will still not come to compete, because they are not genuine,” averred Mwendwa.
He also said he wanted to be in office not by court order, but by mandate through the ballot.
Tikolo, on the other hand, says her team is independent of the court battles, saying they will carry on with the process and abide with the ST ruling duly as Ohaga will rule.
Already, the list of the county elections winners has been published.
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