Probe Bomas chaos during poll, Wafula Chebukati tells President Ruto

WAfula Chebukati

Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission Chairman Wafula Chebukati. 

Photo credit: Evans Habil I Nation Media Group

The electoral agency has asked President William Ruto to order a public inquiry into the events leading to the declaration of the final results of the August 9, 2022 presidential election.

The outgoing chairman of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), Mr Wafula Chebukati, yesterday revealed that the commission had written to the Head of State on the matter, saying, the 2022 poll witnessed the highest number of attempts to undermine independence of the agency and usurp its powers.

He cited intimidation by security organs, lobbying by the National Security Advisory Committee (NSAC), disinformation campaigns and the murder of a returning officer as some of the attacks against IEBC.

“The gravity of these attempts to subvert the will of the people cannot be wished away or swept under the carpet because they may re-emerge in future elections,” Mr Chebukati told stakeholders during the launch of the post-election evaluation report.

He also cited ethnic profiling and open threats against some members of the commission and staff, illegal arrest and detention of staff and service providers, assault of some members of the commission, staff and service providers by goons and law enforcement agencies at the Bomas of Kenya and some County and Constituency Tallying Centres as well as abduction and murder of Embakasi East Constituency returning officer Daniel Musyoka as threats that befell IEBC.

Mr Chebukati alongside two other commissioners — Prof Abdi Guliye and Boya Molu — who exit the commission today after serving their six-year non-renewable terms, yesterday gave chilling revelations about last year’s elections.

In the presence of dignitaries and foreign diplomats such as European Union Ambassador to Kenya Henriette Geiger, United Nations Development Programme representative Anthony Ngororano, Attorney-General Justin Muturi, Council of Governors Chairperson Anne Waiguru, Registrar of Political Parties Anne Nderitu, Senate Deputy Speaker Kathuri Murungi, and County Assemblies Forum chair Kiplagat Sabulei, Prof Guliye told of how they had to exit the national tallying centre at the Bomas of Kenya in secret after Dr Ruto was declared President-elect.

“We went into hiding, we had to put off our phones, leave them in Bomas, send away our security and we rode in a Noah car to unknown location,” Prof Guliye narrated.

Their only contact to Kenya and the world at the location which he did not mention was the television “just to check whether Kenyans were killing each other or celebrating.” He explained that after three days in hiding, they realised that Kenyans had moved on and continued with their normal lives.

He said Mr Chebukati, Mr Molu and himself had weathered many storms at the commission in their six-year stint, including attempts by opposition leader Raila Odinga to eject them from the agency.

“You all remember the irreducible minimums of which among the staff I was number one on the list of the people to go. You also recall the clean slate slogan in the BBI — meaning clearing the entire IEBC. Of course it didn’t come to pass,” Prof Gulife said in reference to former President Uhuru Kenyatta’s and Mr Odinga’s failed Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) project.

In a thinly veiled attack on the “Cherera four” — former vice chair Juliana Cherera, Julius Nyang’aya, Francis Wanderi and Irene Massit — Mr Molu urged members of Parliament to be diligent as they seek to replace them at the commission.

“Please ensure the commission is not populated by political stooges. This is not a place for political rewards,” Mr Molu charged.

The evaluation report launched yesterday outlined key recommendations to enhance stability at the commission. It recommends appointment of commissioners at least two years before a General Election and continuous benchmarking with other electoral management bodies to adopt the best policies and practices.

The report also calls for enhanced engagement with Parliament to fast-track proposed amendments to ensure relevant electoral laws are in place in good time before the election. It also calls for strengthening access controls to ensure only persons eligible to be at the tallying centres access them. It suggests provision of risk allowances for IEBC staff and adequate security to them and their families during elections.

It also proposes operationalisation of the IEBC Fund and acquisition of commission-owned headquarters to enhance its independence. In the report, the commission also calls for adoption of a Joint Security Response Approach throughout the electoral cycle.

Yesterday, Ms Geiger lauded Kenyans for remaining peaceful during the entire electoral period and IEBC for doing a “commendable job during the elections.”

Mr Muturi, who was the chief guest at the event, said legislative and policy changes should be done in good time to avert the risk of having to change law during an electioneering period.

Ms Waiguru urged IEBC to carry out intensive assessment of the 2022 General Election in order to inform the conduct of the next polls.

Mr Kathuri Murungi, who represented Senate Speaker Amason Kingi, said the House will be ready to implement legislative proposals put forward by IEBC.

Mr Chebukati took the opportunity to highlight achievements of the commission as he exits.

“Over the past six years of our tenure at the commission, we ensured devolution of operations from 17 regions to 47 county offices complete with key staff. County election managers and senior election officers at the constituencies are permanent staff who are gazetted as county and constituency returning officers respectively,” he said.


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