Former IEBC chairperson Wafula Chebukati yesterday narrated how Azimio Executive Director Raphael Tuju offered to bribe IEBC commissioners to block President William Ruto’s victory.
Mr Chebukati claimed that the former Rarieda MP offered them monetary reward should the commissioners accept to moderate the presidential results in favour of Azimio presidential candidate Raila Odinga or at worst, force a re-run.
Appearing before the Justice Aggrey Muchelule-led tribunal at the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development, Mr Chebukati recounted how Mr Tuju made his way to the Bomas of Kenya and the holding room where he was sleeping in the wee hours of the morning uninvited with the offer.
He told the tribunal that the former Cabinet Secretary without portfolio woke him up at 3am on August 15, 2022, saying he was visiting on behalf of Azimio and wanted to discuss tallying and the ongoing process.
Mr Chebukati said Mr Tuju was accompanied by former Busia Senator Amos Wako and advocate Kyalo Mbobu, however only the former two spoke during the meeting.
However, pressed by the tribunal to reveal the details of the monetary reward and where it was to come from, Mr Chebukati said he did not encourage him to expound on the reward.
“Mr Tuju said should we consider the request, we will be adequately rewarded. He (Tuju) mentioned the reward but I didn’t care to ask where it came from,” said Mr Chebukati.
On the other hand, Mr Wako asked the Commission to put the interests of the country and look at the bigger picture pushing them to announce a particular candidate, in this case Mr Odinga, a request he said their side of the divide rejected.
Nonetheless, he claimed that the “Cherera 4” urged them to consider the sentiments by the senior citizens on moderating results in favour of Mr Odinga or forcing a run-off. “The four commissioners left no doubt that they wanted to subvert the will of the people which is an offence in the Penal Code and Election Offences Act,” said the ex-IEBC boss.
“Ms Irene Masit agreed with sentiments of Tuju and Wako, but I said the will of the people must be respected and we must live to our oath of office.”
Thereafter, he said, the visitors left after his side of the Commission maintained they will only do what the law requires.
He said the electoral agency had been working well, diligently following the law and laid down procedures with commissioners having cordial relationships up until August 15.
Mr Chebukati argued that all the six commissioners were in the auditorium assisting in the verification and tallying process while the agents also had the opportunity to look at the results coming in and if there were issues they would raise them with the commissioners.
“I am not aware of Masit raising issues of any results being incorrect. Only Justus Nyang’aya had raised an issue which was sorted out,” said Mr Chebukati.
“The statement of results being opaque was totally dishonest as all commissioners were part of the tallying and verification process and I believe we ran the most transparent election ever in the history of the country,” he added.
The ex-IEBC chairperson also narrated how former Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua called him at around 9am that day to inform him a National Security Advisory Council (NSAC) delegation led by Principal Administrative Secretary at the Office of the President Kennedy Kihara was coming to visit him to talk about assumption of office.
Although he told the tribunal he did not know how he came in on matters assumption of office, he agreed to the meeting.
Nonetheless, while meeting the delegation, assumption of office matters were not discussed, but the visitors threatened the Commission that if they declared Dr Ruto as the president, then the blood of Kenyans will be on their heads as skirmishes had already begun in some slums.
He claimed Mr Kihara said if they could not announce Mr Odinga as the outright winner, then they must push for a rerun. However, no explanation was given how to achieve the same.
“Ms Masit supported the NSAC position to be considered before taking action on the results. Ms (Juliana) Cherera said the margin wasn't too big and could be manipulated by taking the margin to the rejected ballots,” he said.
Take personal responsibility
However, Ms Masit’s lawyer, Donald Kipkorir, asked Mr Chebukati to state which laws his client breached by her actions to warrant her removal as commissioner, whether he had any problem with Ms Masit or she had been in the wrong prior to August 15. “I don’t have any problem with Ms Masit but if you are acting in bad faith against your office then you must take personal responsibility,” Mr Chebukati said.
But when asked why he wanted a commission of inquiry set up to probe incidents surrounding the 2022 elections, which was peaceful and he said was above board, and not the 2017 poll which experienced violence and death of IEBC staff and was subsequently nullified, Mr Chebukati was tongue-tied.
Further, Mr Kipkorir raised new claims that the Office of the President is sponsoring the tribunal, claiming certain individuals, who are part of the tribunal, have links with the President and his office by being both directly and indirectly associated with UDA.
Early in the day, attempts by Azimio, through lawyer Danstan Omari, to join the tribunal proceedings were thwarted by Justice Muchelule, who threw out their application, saying they have not convinced the tribunal why they should be part of the hearings too late into the process.
The tribunal will reconvene on February 9 when parties will make their final submissions and thereafter the tribunal will have seven days to hand their report to President Ruto.