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Man under siege: Former CEO was always hanging by a thread

Sunday October 14 2018

Ezra Chiloba

IEBC CEO Ezra Chiloba has not been able to access his office since then and may never do so again, unless he manages to overturn Friday’s decision to sack him. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

WALTER MENYA
By WALTER MENYA
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Since September 1, 2017 when the Supreme Court nullified the August 8 presidential poll and ordered a fresh election, Kenyans have been treated to a circus of leaked internal Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) documents including memos, commissioners and secretariat talking at cross-purposes and contradicting each other in public, and external competing political hands appearing to pull strings within the commission.

But any lingering hope that Mr Ezra Chiloba would one day resume his duties at Anniversary Towers offices were dashed on April 6 when commissioners passed a resolution to send the CEO on compulsory leave.

As soon as he received the letter sending him on forced leave, whatever little ground he may have been standing on started to crumble. First, his office immediately got new locks and some of his key staff were redeployed to other jobs at the commission.

TERMINATED ALLOWANCES

He has not been able to access his office since then and may never do so again, unless he manages to overturn Friday’s decision to sack him for “gross misconduct, breach and violation of the commission's Human Resource and Administration policies as well as other relevant legislations.”

In the last weeks leading to his eventual sacking, a series of events took place that left no doubt that Mr Chiloba was heading for the exit door: the commission terminated allowances to security personnel attached to the former CEO, effectively withdrawing the aides; his official drivers were recalled and redeployed; there was an attempt to take away his official vehicles which he has been using in his capacity as CEO; and the commission forwarded the audit files to the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) and the Director of Public Prosecutions Noordin Haji asking them to investigate the audit findings with a view to charging Mr Chiloba with corruption and abuse of office.

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DISCIPLINARY COMMITTEE

In his final letter turning down the chance to appear before the commission’s disciplinary committee, Mr Chiloba highlighted these events as some of the reasons he turned down the invitation to appear and defend himself before the committee.

“I wish to reiterate the contents of my letter to you dated September 18, 2018. I am unable to prepare and/or conduct my substantive response to the audit queries raised, having been denied access to the office, staff and relevant documentation. Neither am I able to respond to the disciplinary cause, which is wholly founded upon the supposed audit, for the same reason,” Mr Chiloba’s letter to IEBC chairman Wafula Chebukati reads.

The letter is dated October 9, which was two days before he was supposed to appear before the disciplinary committee.

In the same letter, Mr Chiloba seemed to suggest that appearing before the disciplinary committee was, in his view, a waste of time as the commission has already decided to sack him no matter what he tells the disciplinary committee.

OFFICIAL VEHICLES

“ … you appear to have already pre-determined the matter following reports that you have referred the matter to EACC and DPP, and you had already made a decision to dismiss me, but later rescinded it, which decision informed your re-assigning my official driver, terminating allowances due to security officers attached to me, and recalling of my official vehicles,” Mr Chiloba said in the letter.

While on suspension, Mr Chiloba’s personal assistant, Abednego Ominde, was arrested on the evening of September 12 with commission documents that he was taking to the former CEO.

A brief statement by commission chairman Wafula Chebukati says the former CEO failed to answer to the audit queries raised in the internal audit as well as the Auditor-General’s report.

“Mr Chiloba’s gross misconduct, breach and violation of the Commission's Human Resource and Administration policies as well as other relevant legislations left the Commission with no option other than to terminate his employment contract,” said Mr Chebukati.