Year in review: Court cases for FKF and a contentious election

When the Covid-19 pandemic stopped every football activity from March and for the better part of 2020, one aspect of the beautiful game could not be halted – court battles!

The game was played in court, the Football Kenya Federation (FKF) elections taking the centre-stage with the referee of the long enduring match John Ohaga at one point being accused of “interference with football” in the process.

The battle was so fierce and indeed long, having started in 2019 when FKF attempted to hold the elections with a caution of three months to the culmination of the 2016-2020 tenure.

On December 3, just before the national elections that were set for December 7, Ohaga cancelled the entire process including the branch elections that had already taken place.

In their ruling, the SDT found that the FKF Elections Board was not properly constituted and there was no public participation in the formulation of the Electoral Code as envisaged in the Kenyan Constitution. The Elections Board was then chaired by Prof. Eliud Wamukoya, assisted by Elinah Shiveka.

Jared Nyauma, then Nyamira FKF sub-branch chairman who petitioned on behalf of sub-branches seeking the quashing of the elections board termed the ruling a triumph for football, adding that all stakeholders must play a role in determining how football is managed in the country.

“We have been vindicated in our stance that all stakeholders should be involved in the affairs of the federation, starting from the sub-branches. FKF clubs are the primary members of the federation and omitting them is illegal,” he said.

It was a win for former FKF chief Sam Nyamweya, former ADFC Leopards chairman Alex Ole Magelo, former Gor Mahia CEO Omondi Aduda and former Vihiga County Governor Moses Akaranga who were in the petition too, and wanted to contest for the presidency but upon fulfilment of a number of conditions.

At this stage, FKF contemplated an appeal at the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Switzerland, but finally opted to start afresh.

“We met as the National Executive Committee and agreed to abide by the decision taken by the Sports Tribunal. We did not agree with the decision, but we will not contest it. We have instead started a new process towards a new election including amending the code,” told Mwendwa.

It meant there was to be a Special General Meeting (SGM) for the members to endorse the new Electoral Code, which took place on January 28, 2020. The SGM bore a new code, and importantly, a new Electoral Board was adopted with Kentice Tikolo as the Chairperson. Patrick Onyango, Ali Hassan Kauleni, Samuel Karanja and veteran referee Alfred Ndinya completed the matrix.

But it was not to be the end of the duel. Another petition was filed as soon as the electoral process started. A number of issues were raised by the petitioners who included Nyamweya, but only one question was found to be the reason to quash the elections that were set to climax on March 27- eligibility criteria of the candidates.

In the ruling of March 17, the SDT found that the requirements laid down unreasonably locked out potential candidates hence “contradicting the spirit of political competition as enshrined in the constitution of Kenya.”

This meant that all the lower tiers of the FKF governing structure that had been carried out were null and void, thus Tikolo and her teams’ dream to finish the electoral process before April 2020, as the world football governing body FIFA had instructed hit the rock.

Ohaga also ruled that the tenure of the FKF National Executive Council (NEC) was over, thus the supreme body of the FA could not convene to lay out another roadmap towards second repeat elections.

Consequently, SDT invited FIFA and the Government of Kenya to form a Normalisation Committee to take charge of Kenya’s football as Mwendwa could not function alone, although he was to remain at the helm until elections were held.

Seven days later, FIFA declared SDT’s ruling null and void, saying it ‘had no legal effect whatsoever.” Instead, FIFA invited FKF, Ministry of Sports and the SDT to a consultative meeting in Zurich – Switzerland to deliberate on the way forward.

Reacting to the ruling, Mwendwa thanked FIFA for the quick response that he says has cleared the “confusion that came with the ruling.”

“FIFA has spoken. It is clear we have an office in place and we continue working until the time we get to the next level hopefully after this coronavirus pandemic. Our relationship with the SDT is not very stable now, because we have seen a number of rulings not only in our federation but even others like swimming and athletics that are very questionable. Thus, we will be seeking advice from FIFA on the way forward regarding their role on our matters,” said a relieved Mwendwa, as a new journey towards third repeat elections began.

But the meeting was never to be, FKF CEO Barry Otieno saying the Minstry of Sports through Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohammed had moved quickly to assure FIFA a local solution would be found.

It was not to be as quickly as expected, following the global disruption of order by the COVID-19 pandemic. Amid the Corona silence, new aspirants for the presidency emerged while some withdrew from the tiring race. Such was Akaranga, who went mum about his interest to unseat Mwendwa while former CECAFA Secretary General Nicholas Musonye and Twaha Mbarak joined the race.

Nyamweya held on, as Sammy Shollei, Aduda, Herbert Mwachiro and Mwendwa did. But there new entries too; former AFC Leopards Chairman Dan Mule and Sports Journalist Boniface Osano.

Aduda, Musonye, Shollei, Nyamweya among others returned to the SDT seeking orders to stop the elections. By then, the eligibility criteria had been amended, a hybrid of the FIFA and FKF constitution bearing a more lenient set of rules.

It is the relaxed criteria that finally attracted Osano and Mule, while Aduda and Mwachiro changed their stance and submitted their nomination papers.

“What we were agitating for was rectified. It is only fair for us to now turn to delegates and convince them why we want to be in office,” Aduda said, answering what informed his U-turn.

Such were the sentiments of Osano and Mule, who laughed off the demands by the opposed aspirants as “mere excuses.”

“I heard some of them saying the Electoral Board should not operate from the FKF headquarters, where can we hide them so that any of the candidates is not able to influence them if that was to happen? If there are complaints about the work of the board, it should be on other grounds but not where they operate from…” said Mule.

Fast forward, and on October 16 the SDT dismissed a petition to stop the elections again, just hours to the national elections date. The branch elections had been concluded although there was still a room to cancel the results again, had the petitioners succeeded.

Delegates from across the country were already in Nairobi and it was all systems go on the next day at the Safari Park Hotel. The peak of the election was Mwendwa’s resounding win with 77 votes, out the total 85, 72 more than his closest challenger Aduda who got five.

Mwachiro had only three, while both Mule and Osano got zero.

Team Blue dominance

Mwendwa’s movement Team Blue dominated the NEC positions too, with Nyanza’s John Andere edging his only rival to the FKF supreme body Laban Jobita (Western Stima Chairman) by 79 votes against five. One vote was pronounced spoilt.

For the Nairobi NEC seat, Michael Ouma polled 59 to floor Tom Alila (25) and Macharia Wambugu who managed just one.

Bernard Korir was elected the NEC member for Upper Rift region by 64 votes, beating Masinde Nyongesa who attained 21.

Ahmed Qadar Mohammed clinched the North Eastern NEC position, easily outdoing his only contender Mohammed Ahmed Farah by 82 against three.

The closest showdown was in the Women Rep in the NEC, won by Margaret Anyango by 43 votes, just one more than Violet Momanyi. Immediate former Gor Mahia Treasurer Sally Bollo had a difficult day in the race, getting zero.

Davis Chege of Central, Gabriel Mghendi of Coast, David Bunei of Lower Rift and Western’s Tony Kweya were unopposed in the NEC race.

And, as if the court battles were the ghosts behind the football suspension, a month later, the FKF Premier League resumed albeit another push and pull of broadcast rights between a section of clubs and the federation.

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