The intrigues at the electoral commission continued Monday after the agency’s chairman Wafula Chebukati called for the arrest and prosecution of sacked chief executive Ezra Chiloba.
Mr Chebukati asked the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) and the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) to charge all Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) officials indicted in an audit report.
“I have written to the DPP and EACC to ensure that all those who were involved in making the election expensive are charged,” Mr Chebukati said in Wote town, Makueni County.
Mr Chiloba was fired on Friday after he turned down an invitation to appear before the commission’s disciplinary committee to defend himself over audit queries.
Mr Chebukati was speaking when he launched a drive to register new voters, targeting 20.1 million by June 2019.
Kenya now has 19.6 million registered voters who were eligible to cast their ballot in last year’s polls.
In the meeting, Makueni Senator Mutula Kilonzo Junior said last year’s elections were the most expensive in the region.
The senator said it was wrong for the commission to spend so much money on elections at a time when the country is struggling.
Mr Chebukati admitted that the cost concerns are valid, saying that was partly why they decided to audit IEBC’s expenditure during last year’s general election.
He said an internal audit was corroborated by another report by the auditor general, which had accused the commission of exaggeration of costs and payment for goods that were either not delivered, or delivered long after the elections.
“Some people did not want us to do the audit but we ignored them and this has caused some problems,” Mr Chebukati said.
The chairman — who was accompanied by commissioners Abdi Guliye and Mr Boya Molu and the agency’s acting CEO Marjan Hussein — assured the audience that the agency is up to the task.
Some leaders had questioned the commission’s legality following the departure of several commissioners.
Mr Molu dismissed the quorum concerns, saying the law allowed the agency to run even with three commissioners in office.
Commissioners Connie Nkatha, Paul Kurgat and Margaret Mwachanya resigned in April, bringing to four the commissioners who have exited IEBC, including Roselyne Akombe who quit in October last year.
On his part, Mr Chebukati defended the general performance of the agency in last year's polls and pledged to reform it to better undertake its mandate.
Legislators Thaddeus Nzambia (Kilome), Dani Maanzo (Makueni) and Joshua Kimilu (Kaiti) urged the commission not to disband or merge their constituencies in its plan to review boundaries.
Governor Kivutha Kibwana and Senator Kilonzo Junior called on Mr Chebukati to take advantage of the ‘handshake’ between President Uhuru Kenyatta and Opposition leader Raila Odinga to reform the agency.
"We need to take advantage of the handshake to revisit the post-election disputes that rocked the country as well as electoral reforms," Prof Kibwana said.
Mr Chebukati called on politicians to work closely with the agency to address existing and emerging challenges.