The four besieged electoral commissioners booked into a high-end furnished apartment after their explosive press conference on August 15, where they disowned the presidential election results, and over the next five days, met high-profile Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Coalition leaders, evidence before a tribunal investigating their conduct has shown.
This further compounds the problems facing the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) vice-chairperson Juliana Cherera, and commissioners Justus Nyang’aya, Francis Wanderi, and Irene Masit who are facing a tribunal led by Court of Appeal judge Aggrey Muchelule.
Ms Cherera, Mr Nyang’aya, and Mr Wanderi have since quit their posts, with Ms Masit demanding a stop to the tribunal proceedings until a case she has filed in court is heard and determined.
The tribunal’s lead counsel Peter Murage has lined up IEBC chairman Wafula Chebukati, and commissioners Abdi Guliye and Boya Molu to testify against the four.
Also set to appear against the four is IEBC chief executive Marjan Hussein Marjan. There are other witnesses the tribunal has lined up for the hearings beginning December 20, who have been termed protected witnesses. The four commissioners had rejected results announced by Mr Chebukati — who was flanked by Prof Guliye, Mr Molu and Mr Marjan — terming as opaque the tail-end of the verification and tallying of votes.
However, it is the evidence of the Yaya Apartments management that could tie the four top IEBC chiefs to the Raila Odinga-led Azimio team.
The premises has presented logs that show the four officials checked in on August 15, with their bookings done by a person identified as Edwin Ong’ong’a Ogwe.
“Mr Edwin previously stayed in the apartments earlier in the year and he was, therefore, a repeat guest. At 8:36pm on August 15, four guests accompanied by bodyguards and other individuals arrived for the check-in.
The four guests were identified as IEBC commissioners, and two went to the apartments as one of the bodyguards and two other commissioners passed by the reception for the check-in process. They were, however, unwilling to provide their details,” said the letter addressed to Mr Murage dated December 12, 2022.
Mr Ogwe did not accompany the commissioners when they checked in after holding a press conference at the Serena Hotel, in which they distanced themselves from presidential election results declared at Bomas of Kenya by Mr Chebukati.
Mr Ogwe went to the apartments the following day, August 16, to pay for the rooms. The four commissioners are said to have checked out of Yaya Apartments and Hotel on August 19 at 3pm.
The hotel has released to Mr Murage the visitors’ book, the log-in details as well as CCTV footage and identity of some of the Azimio la Umoja One Kenya leaders who visited the commissioners at the apartments and payment vouchers.
The Azimio officials included the secretary-general of a party in the coalition, the personal assistant of one of the party leaders who is also a member of the Azimio Council, as well as a leading operative in the outfit’s executive council. The tribunal will also look at the letter by Mr Chebukati dated December 9.
Four petitioners want the four commissioners kicked out of the IEBC for rejecting the presidential election results announced by Mr Chebukati on August 15, when he declared Dr Ruto the winner of the hotly contested elections against his main challenger, Mr Odinga.
Justice Muchelule fixed the hearing date during a status conference on Friday last week after the tribunal overruled Ms Masit’s objections on the proceedings.
She had argued that she has a pending court case that has a bearing on the tribunal’s proceedings. The tribunal, however, ruled that there was no stay order from the court suspending the hearings.
She had also challenged the tribunal’s proceedings on grounds that since the team was formed to investigate four commissioners and given that her colleagues have resigned, then the tribunal lacks jurisdiction.
The tribunal held that the investigations were on each of the four commissioners individually and not collectively.
On August 15, when the IEBC chairman was about to announce the final tally of the presidential election the four commissioners walked out of the tallying centre and proceeded to Serena Hotel where they held a press conference at which they distanced themselves from the results. They said the chairman had sidelined them in the process and picked Mr Marjan to compile and tally the results.