Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) chairman Wafula Chebukati is at the centre of a court battle on whether he should lead next year’s General Election.
The case, filed before High Court judge Weldon Korir, stems from the Supreme Court’s annulment of the 2017 presidential election.
Petitioner Samwel Clinton Elijah argues that the buck stops with Chebukati in IEBC’s indictment by the Supreme Court.
According to Elijah, although the Supreme Court found gaps that affected the process leading to the nullification of the results of the presidential poll, the commission has not facilitated public participation or taken action to ensure they are sealed.
“Respondent (Chebukati) failed to adhere to the Constitution and the applicable laws hence steered the 1st interested party (IEBC) in conducting presidential elections that were marred with irregularities and illegalities which were substantial and significant that they affected the integrity of the presidential election of August 8, 2017, the results notwithstanding,” court papers filed by lawyer Denis Seko read.
Elijah wants Chebukati barred from heading the commission until the case is heard and determined.
He says IEBC is ill-prepared for next year’s General Election, adding that it failed to fill critical positions that were left vacant by former commissioners. He says the commission has additional staff deficit of 296, including a chief executive officer.
“On September 2018, the then IEBC Chief Executive Officer Ezra Chiloba was sacked by the respondent. The position remains vacant to date and the first interested party has not had a substantive Chief Executive Officer since 2018,” he says.
Since the commission is not fully constituted even after President Uhuru Kenyatta appointed four new commissioners, Elijah asserts that Kenyans are not confident that next year’s elections will be free and fair.
“The respondent’s continued guidance of the first interested party (IEBC) in preparation for the August 22 General Election risks rendering all activities and preparations of the first interested party in relation to the said elections null and void since the commission lacks a quorum,” read Elijah’s court papers.
He also bases his complaint on the 2019 National Assembly Public Accounts Committee report, which indicted IEBC over misuse of funds and lack of accountability.
Elijah says the committee found that the commission procured Sh4 billion Kiems kits without the contractors providing a performance guarantee.
In the case in which he also sued Attorney General Kihara Kariuki, Elijah has also roped in ODM leader Raila Odinga.
He says the former prime minister boycotted the repeat presidential election, citing massive rigging plans.
According to him, the resignation of then-commissioner Roselyn Akombe who then fled to the US further exposed IEBC’s flaws.
“In her resignation letter, she stated, ‘It has become increasingly difficult to continue attending plenary meetings where commissioners come ready to vote along partisan lines and not to discuss the merit of issues before them. It has become increasingly difficult to appear on television to defend positions I disagree with in the name of collective responsibility’,” says Elijah.
He says then Chebukati’s deputy Connie Nkatha Maina and commissioners Margaret Mwachanya and Paul Kurgat stated they had left the commission because they had no faith in him and his leadership.
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