The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission chairman Wafula Chebukati and two other commissioners risk jail terms after a judge directed them to show why they should not be cited for disobeying a court order directing them to reinstate CEO Ezra Chiloba.
Justice Stephen Radido said Mr Chebukati and commissioners Abdi Yakub Guliye and Mr Boya Molu should show cause why contempt proceedings should not be commenced against them.
Through lawyer Andrew Wandabwa, the suspended chief executive officer told the court he was yet to resume his duties, despite the court order.
Mr Chiloba accused Mr Chebukati of orchestrating his removal because of differences on issues such as assignment of duties to staff, the procurement of the Kiems kits and ballot papers, in addition to the manner in which last year’s presidential elections were conducted.
In defence, IEBC said they were justified in suspending Mr Chiloba for the second time, pending the conclusion of an internal audit, which has been going on.
The electoral agency said most of the people conducting the audit were answerable to Mr Chiloba and might be intimidated in the process.
On his part, Mr Chiloba said he was yet to be served with the preliminary report although adverse findings have been made against him.
In the report, IEBC said there is possible misappropriation of more than Sh1 billion at the commission during last year’s repeat presidential election last year. The audit report cites misappropriation, wastage and or pilferage of public funds.
The commission told Justice Radido that there was possible gross breaches of the Public Finance Management (PFM) Act, and the court should protect the public.
“It is therefore imperative and in the public interest that the internal audit be completed as the Commission owes the public a duty to use the public resources allocated to it appropriately,” Mr Chebukati said.
Mr Chebukati denied disobeying the court order and maintained that they were justified in suspending the CEO to allow the completion of the audit.
He said after meeting at plenary, members of the commission noted that the on-going in-depth procurement audit by both internal and external auditors was yet to be completed and the presence of Mr Chiloba might interfere with it.
“The members therefore resolved to suspend the petitioner for three months pending the completion of the comprehensive audit of all major procurements relating to the general elections of 8th August 2017 and fresh presidential elections held on 26th October 2017,” he said.
The court had last month reinstated Mr Chiloba only for the commission to send him on another compulsory leave, a few hours later.
Mr Chebukati said the suspension was done in good faith and meant to enable the commission to undertake a comprehensive audit of all the major procurements that related to last year’s poll and the October 26, 2017 repeat poll.
The court will rule on other prayers sought by Mr Chiloba on July 19.