IEBC chair Ahmed Hassan quizzed over 'Chickengate' scandal

Mr Ahmed Hassan maintained his innocence, saying he played no role in the scandal.

Tuesday March 8 2016

Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) chairman Ahmed Issack Hassan leaves Ethics and Anti-corruption Commission offices in Nairobi on March 8, 2016 when he was grilled over chicken gate scam. PHOTO | JEFF ANGOTE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) chairman Ahmed Issack Hassan leaves Ethics and Anti-corruption Commission offices in Nairobi on March 8, 2016 when he was grilled over chicken gate scam. PHOTO | JEFF ANGOTE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By ISAAC ONGIRI
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Electoral Commission chairman Ahmed Issack Hassan was Tuesday questioned on the 'Chickengate' scandal as the anti-graft commission wound up investigations on the first case in the saga.

Mr Hassan has maintained his innocence, claiming that he is not implicated in the British authorities report and that his appearance was largely to share what he knew in his capacity as the chairperson.

“I have assured the investigators that I was not involved at all in this matter of Chickengate and that I did not ask for or receive any bribe from anybody,” the IEBC chair said.

Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) investigators, however, sought to know his role in the scandal that has already seen two Britons jailed and a Mauritania government minister arrested.

During the investigation, the investigators focused on the emails that were exchanged between those involved in the bribery with Smith and Ouzman officials.

“We went through the documents they received from Britain including emails exchanged between Smith & Ouzman and Trevy Oyombra and I was asked to comment on some of them,” Mr Hassan said.

In the emails some commissioners and former Interim Independent Electoral Commission staff have been mentioned as having asked for kickbacks during the procurement to purchase ballot papers for Shinyalu, South Mugirango and Bomachoge by-elections and the 2010 Constitutional referendum.

Mr Hassan said that the UK convictions have been misconstrued and wrongly used adding that those jailed were found guilty of conspiring to bribe public officials.

“The court in the UK did not have to prove that any bribe was given to anybody,” said the IEBC chairman.

(READ: ‘Chickengate’ scam suspect faces suit)

DPP TO GET FINAL REPORT

He said that several commissioners who served the defunct IIEC and some commission staff including former Chief Executive Officer James Oswago have been grilled over the matter.

EACC investigators are now expected to analyse evidence collected from interviewed witnesses and suspects before forwarding their report to the Director of Public Prosecutions.

Investigations by UK’s Serious Fraud Office (SFO) alleged that about Sh50 million was paid out as bribes to Kenyan poll agency officials.

EACC chairman Philip Kinisu has said he will give a brief on the latest developments after receiving the final report from the investigators by next week.

The anti-graft body has been accused of unnecessarily delaying the investigations and prosecution of the matter even as some for those involved sit pretty in various public offices.

“It took SFO quiet sometimes to finalise investigations before prosecutions commenced. Looking at the far we have come I don’t think it is fair to claim that EACC has delayed processing of this case,” said EACC's ethics and leadership deputy director Mr Kairichi Marimba.

Smith & Ouzman’s former chairman Christopher Smith and his son Nick Smith, who acted as the firm’s sales and marketing director, have already been jailed over the scandal in the UK.

So far, the EACC has also grilled 16 junior officers from the secretariat, including some who had left the commission to join other state agencies.

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