Watchdog fingers IEBC top leadership in corruption scandal

Parliamentary team fingers top leadership of the electoral body for corruption

Thursday March 24 2016

From left: Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission vice chair Lilian Mahiri-Zaja, vice CEO Betty Suguna, Chairman Issack Hassan and CEO Ezra Chiloba launch the election operation plan 2015-2017 at the Intercontinental Hotel in Nairobi on January 14, 2016. Many Kenyans have lost faith that the IEBC is able to conduct credible polls. PHOTO | JAMES EKWAM |

From left: Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission vice chair Lilian Mahiri-Zaja, vice CEO Betty Suguna, Chairman Issack Hassan and CEO Ezra Chiloba launch the election operation plan 2015-2017 at the Intercontinental Hotel in Nairobi on January 14, 2016. Many Kenyans have lost faith that the IEBC is able to conduct credible polls. PHOTO | JAMES EKWAM | NATION MEDIA GROUP

By JOHN NJAGI
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By JOHN NGIRACHU
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Pressure on Kenya’s electoral commission is bound to increase after one of Parliament’s watchdog committees fingered its entire top leadership for corruption related to procurement of materials used in the last General Election.

In what amounts to a damning verdict on the credibility of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), the Public Accounts Committee has recommended the investigation of all the commissioners and the barring from public office and surcharge of the chief executive.

The commissioners and the former chief executive allegedly mishandled procurement due to vested interests, while the chief executive officer, Mr Ezra Chiloba, who took over in January 2015 is alleged to have cleared an irregular payment when he assumed office.

It was some $2.5 million (Sh258 million) to Face Technologies, the South African company that supplied the Electronic Voter Identification Devices  and then increased the value of the contract without approval.

The committee recommended: “Recovery measures be instituted on the current Chief Executive Officer, Mr Ezra S. Chiloba for the payment of the extra claims of Sh258 million to Face Technologies Ltd. without a valid contract. The Committee further recommends that he be barred from holding public office.”

PAC’s report comes on the heels of a fresh battle front with the Cord coalition over rejection of its million Okoa Kenya referendum signatures.

Separately, National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi yesterday asked the IEBC to convene a meeting of all stakeholders for dialogue over the emerging issues.

“We must look at the bigger picture. There is a desire by Kenyans to see changes at the IEBC, including reducing the number of commissioners and putting the commission on a part-time basis, so as to give room to the Secretariat to do its work,” Mr Muturi said at a meeting with Danish Ambassador Mette Knudsen.

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