The date for the pre-trial conference for the NASA presidential petition has been fixed for Saturday, August 26, at 7pm , according to a court notice sent to the various parties. The law on the hearing and determination of a presidential election petition requires that the first sitting (pre-trial conference) of such a petition be held eight days from the date of filing the petition.

However, the reason the conference will be held at night is because Chief Justice David Maraga is a staunch Seventh-Day Adventist and during his interview for the job, he told the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) that he will never work on a Sabbath (Saturday) even if it is a presidential election.

He said he would rather ask his colleagues to exempt him.  The 66-year-old jurist is a strict SDA elder, who will not betray his faith at any cost.

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“It would be very difficult for me to sit on a Saturday to hear a case. I would rather talk with my colleagues in the court to accommodate me and exempt me from sitting if the hearing extends to a Saturday,” he told the JSC.

The SDA Church is a Protestant Christian denomination distinguished by its observance of Saturday, the seventh day of the week in Christian and Jewish calendars, as Sabbath, and by its emphasis on the imminent Second Coming (advent) of Jesus Christ. They believe that the Sabbath start from Friday sunset to Saturday sunset, the reason the conference has to wait for darkness.

But given the high stakes involved in the petition filed by NASA presidential candidate Raila Odinga challenging the declaration of Uhuru Kenyatta as the winner of the August 8 contest, the Supreme Court cannot afford to allow him stay out of the crucial conference, which will trash out preliminary matters and lay ground rules for the hearing stage.

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Prior to his appointment as CJ, Justice Maraga was the Presiding Judge of the C*************l at Kisumu and the Chairperson of the Judiciary Committee on Elections.

CJ Maraga holds a Master of Laws (LLM) Degree from the University of Nairobi; a Bachelor of Laws (LLB) Degree from the same University and a Diploma in Legal Practice from the Kenya School of Law. He was admitted onto the Roll of Advocates in October 1978.

NASA leaders are planning to hold prayers for the presidential petition outside the Supreme Court on Sunday.

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