ECK misery far from over

December 10, 2008 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya Dec 10 – The woes of the disgraced Electoral Commission of Kenya (ECK) Commissioners persisted on Wednesday after a Nairobi Court summoned all of them to over criminal charges linked to last year’s disputed polls.

Nairobi Chief Magistrate Gilbert Mutembei ruled that it would be proper to have the Commissioners appear in court on December 17, when an application for permission to institute the charges against them would be made.

Lawyer Haroun Ndubi had made the application on behalf of a voter from Kuresoi Julius Melli who wants to institute private prosecution against the commissioners for criminal offences allegedly committed during last year’s polls.

Mr Melli wants the Commissioners charged with among other crimes, abuse of office, subversion of the rule of law, publication of false information and disobedience of their statutory duty. They have also been accused of neglecting duty, misleading the public, election related offences, forgery, coining, and counterfeit.

“It is my firm belief that letting the enumerated violations go unpunished will erode public confidence regarding the due process of law and in addition bolster the culture of impunity if members of the public feel that the rule of law can be put to ridicule by public officers who violate the law without any consequences,” Mr Melli argued in his complaint.

He said he was an accredited observer with the ECK under the auspices of thee Association of Professional Societies in East Africa and witnessed various anomalies during the process.

He claims to that a civil society, Kenyans for Peace Truth and Justice (KPTJ) through its official Gladwell Otieno notified the Police Commissioner in writing about the goings on and asked him to investigate the matter and submit a report to the Attorney General.

He said the AG who is the principal legal advisor to the government was privy to the issues raised but he is incapable of prosecuting or instituting criminal proceedings against the Commissioners..

KPTJ also recommended the investigation of 20 staff of the commission’s through officer in charge of Kilimani area with a view to charge them in court.

Correspondence between KPTJ and the AG which were tendered in court showed that the lobby filed a complaint against the ECK at the Kilimani Police Station on January 9 this year.

The AG’s office replied to the letter regretting that police were by then overwhelmed by incidences that were occurring in the country and that the Kenya National Dialogue and Reconciliation team chaired by former UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan had agreed to constitute an Independent Review Commission to probe the bungled poll.

The Commissioners have already moved to court to block their sacking but Parliament appears determined to push ahead with debate on the Constitution of Kenya Amendment Bill.  The Bill was shelved on Wednesday but is due back in Parliament with some amendments in a matter of days.

The case in which the ECK bosses want Parliament barred from enacting the new law is due in court on December 17.


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