Some 18 audit queries and allegations of misconduct formed the basis for the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) to sack its chief executive, adding to politically explosive intrigues that have played out at the commission since last year.
IEBC insiders who spoke to the Sunday Nation also pointed out that apart from infighting, the commission was bedevilled by the overbearing interference by players from various factions of government and the opposition seeking control of the troubled body.
In the sacking of Mr Ezra Chiloba on Friday, the eight-page letter, whose copy the Sunday Nation has obtained, commission chairman Wafula Chebukati accuses the former CEO of “discourteous and disrespectful conduct” for failing to honour summons to appear before the commission’s disciplinary committee when he was accorded an opportunity to defend himself.
The committee comprised Mr Chebukati and the two other commissioners, Prof Abdi Guliye and Mr Boya Molu. Acting CEO Hussein Marjan also sat in the committee but has no vote just like the acting legal director Chrispine Owiye, who was the minute taker for the committee.
“Following adverse findings of the internal audit report dated August 20, 2018, touching on your responsibilities as the commission’s accounting officer, you were issued with a Notice to Show Cause letter dated August 29, 2018. Your written responses to the show cause letter were found to be unsatisfactory,” the termination letter reads.
According to Mr Chebukati, the former CEO’s decision not to appear before the disciplinary committee on Thursday meant that the commission had no choice but to act with information available to them from the audit report.
On Saturday, Mr Chiloba told the Sunday Nation that he is yet to decide how he will move forward. But in his statement soon after he received his dismissal letter on Friday, he castigated the commission for conducting the proceedings leading to his sacking maliciously.
“My employment termination should not be seen as an issue of my person but that of the holder of the office. It brings to focus the major governance crisis at IEBC, an issue that will affect even the next office holder if the matter is not addressed,” he said.
At the commission, there are quiet preparations for a possible court battle.
SUPPLY AND DELIVERY
The 18 grounds on which Mr Chiloba was sacked are three charges relating to procurement of election technology support for fresh presidential election, allegations of overpricing the Kenya Integrated Election Management System (Kiems), questions surrounding the tender for network for results transmission, and delay in delivery and skewed contract for provision of Biometric Voter Registration (BVR) IBM server infrastructure maintenance and infrastructure security monitoring solution.
Other charges relate to delay in delivery of Oracle database and security solution and abuse of government-to-government procurement method, audit queries around supply and delivery of PVC bags, questions around supply and delivery of gas lamp mantles and questions around supply and delivery of tamper proof envelopes.
Queries were also raised over the tender for provision of strategic communication and integrated media campaign, acquisition of cloud hosting services, questions around procurement of converged data centre, among others.
“The above charges which are part of the audit report clearly point to wrongdoing on your part as the commission’s accounting officer. Specifically, you breached various provisions of the IEBC Act, Public Finance Management Act and the Public Procurement and Asset Disposal Act. In addition, you breached the confidentiality clause of your employment contract,” the letter reads.
While the audit queries have emerged as the cause of the fallout within the commission, in reality IEBC has for long been caught up in the thick of political wrangles.
For long periods ahead of, and immediately after the 2017 elections, claims of favouritism and partisanship dogged the commission
On the one side, the opposition Nasa was accusing the commission and specifically the CEO, and some senior members of the secretariat, of being a front for Jubilee.
The ruling party accused Nasa of interfering with the commission’s operations by incessantly attacking them and filing numerous court cases to derail the elections.
On the other hand, Mr Chebulati was at one point seen as close to the opposition but things later changed when Nasa accused him of favouring Jubilee.