, NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 17 – The Civil Society Reference Group has called on the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) Chairperson Wafula Chebukati to quit in order to pave way for a thorough probe into procurement irregularities by the Office of the Auditor General.
Presiding Convener Suba Churchill said in a statement to newsrooms on Tuesday that the resignation of Chebukati, Commissioners Abdi Guliye, and Boya Molu, as well as suspended Chief Executive Officer Ezra Chiloba, will create room for proper investigations into an alleged breach of procurement laws and embezzlement of public funds.
“This will pave the way for recruitment of new men and women of exceptional character, professionalism and experience capable of managing future elections and other constitutional functions of the Commission as envisioned in the law,” Churchill said a day after IEBC Vice-Chairperson Consolata Nkatha led commissioners Paul Kurgat and Margaret Mwachanya in announcing their decision to resign.
The exit of the three brought to four the number of commissioners that have left IEBC, Rosslyn Akombe having been the first to quit on October 18 last year, a week to the October 26 repeat presidential poll.
Monday’s resignation of Nkatha, Kurgat, and Mwachanya dealt a blow to the Chebukati-led commission as it fell short of the requisite five-member quorum required for plenary meetings without which binding resolutions cannot be made.
While announcing their resignation, the three commissioners accused Chebukati of being antagonistic and self-seeking.
“The Commission Chairperson has failed to be the steady and stable hand that steers the ship in difficult times and give direction when needed,” they said in a joint statement.
“Under his leadership, the Commission boardroom has become a venue for peddling misinformation, grounds for brewing mistrust, and a space for scrambling for and chasing for individual glory and credit,” the trio added.
In a quick rejoinder, however, Chebukati denied the allegations saying the resignation of Nkatha, Kurgat, and Mwachanya was a proof of their inability to accommodate divergent views.
He defended his decision to send Chiloba on a three-month compulsory leave saying it was backed by a majority vote of three against two during a plenary meeting.
While Nkatha and Kurgat walked out in protest of the vote triggered by an internal audit that revealed non-adherence to procurement regulations in five election tenders last year, Mwachanya was away on official duty.
“The real reason for their resignation is the plenary resolution to hold the Commission Secretary (CEO) to account,” he said.
“The resigning commissioners had a chance through a crisis meeting held in Naivasha on April 13 to air their grievances – which they did not. They would have also introduced a motion to ask the commission chairperson to review the plenary decision,” the IEBC Chairperson added.