Three members of the electoral commission have requested a National Assembly committee to allow them to respond to adverse mentions by sacked chief executive Ezra Chiloba in the irregular procurement case.
The matter concerns irregularities in the August general election as well as the fresh presidential election in October.
In a letter to the House Clerk Michael Sialai, Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) chairman Wafula Chebukati and Commissioners Boya Molu and Abdi Guliye, want the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) to give them an opportunity to clear their names.
“The commission is seeking an opportunity to respond to the adverse inaccurate statements and misrepresentations by former CEO/ Secretary and former commissioners as well as to adequately inform PAC’s deliberations and consequent report,” Mr Chebukati says in the December 4, 2018 letter.
The commission, as well as its former commissioners and former employees, have variously appeared before the committee to respond to the auditor general Edward Ouko on the major procurements for the general election and fresh presidential election.
In the letter, Mr Chebukati said that various inaccurate adverse misrepresentations have been levelled against the commission, commission chairman and serving commissioners “warranting the exercise of the right of reply”.
“Particularly, the former CEO/ secretary and former commissioners have in the past expressed open hostility and ill-will against the commission,” he said.
Ugunja MP Opiyo Wandayi, who chairs PAC, a watchdog committee said that said that Mr Chebukati and his commissioners will have a right to fair hearing under the law.
“We shall give them an opportunity to respond to the alleged accusations in January 2019,” Mr Wandayi said as the House went on a long recess on Thursday.
“However, we shall not allow them to introduce new matters since they had concluded their evidence before the committee. We plan to present our report to the House immediately we resume from recess in February,” he said.
When he appeared before the committee last week, Mr Chiloba accused the commission led by Mr Chebukati of directly interfering with the procurement process some involving billions of shillings.
He noted that Mr Chebukati influenced the award of tenders to his law firm Cootow and Associates, worth millions of shillings to represent the agency in 2017 election petitions across the country.
He also claimed the commissioners openly voted to overturn the Sh3.8 billion supply of Kenya Integrated Election Management (KIEMs) kits which had been awarded to Gemalto in favour of OT- Morpho that would later be paid over Sh6 billion.
The commission, he said also sought to have the Sh2.5 billion ballot paper printing firm given to a company of their choice only for the court to rule that Al Ghurair, a Dubai based firm, be awarded.
Mr Chiloba’s testimony contradicted that which Mr Chebukati gave the watchdog committee earlier.
He said the commission was never briefed about the procurement process ahead of the election and that when he tried, he was reminded that the commissioners needed to stick to their policy formulation mandate.
The murky waters at the commission saw three commissioners Connie Nkatha (Vice chairperson) and commissioners Margaret Mwachanya and Paul Kurgat resign saying that their continued stay at the commission was untenable and accused Mr Chebukati of incompetence.
When they appeared before the committee on Monday this week, the three former commissioners blamed Mr Chebukati of micromanaging procurement processes at the commission.