Top Stories / 2017 Elections
Wednesday, 13 Jul 2016 21:36 EATcmutai@kenyafreepress.com
Top officials of the electoral commission, IEBC, had a difficult time as they struggled to answer questions before the joint parliamentary committee comprising Justice and Legal affairs Committee (JALC) and the Constitution Implementation Oversight Committee (CIOC).
There was a bitter exchange of words in the house between the IEBC commissioners and the joint committee as the commissioners struggled to defend their jobs.
The commission’s chairman, Issack Hassan, went out of order as tempers flared accusing the JALC chair, Hon. Samuel Chepkong’a (Ainabkoi MP) of introducing allegations that were not in the petition by Bungoma resident Barasa Nyukuri.
“…………… he is a liar. We can’t just sit here and listen to you repeat the same lies by him. It’s not fair,” said the irritated Hassan referring to the auditor general.
The altercation came as a response to findings by the Auditor General that IEBC was an accessory to the loss of Sh4 billion in the procurement of the Biometric Voter Registration (BVR).
In response to this, the committee chair informed Mr Hassan that he had no right to direct what the committee does adding that the report was neither his nor that of the JALC.
The petitioner had stated that the IEBC commissioners lacked integrity and credibility to preside over the next election and that Hassan and commissioners Lilian Mahiri-Zaja (vice chairperson), Abdulahi Sharawe, Thomas Letangule, Mohammed Alawi, Albert Bwire, Kule Godana, Yusuf Nzibo and Muthoni Wangai should be removed from office.
Commissioner Nzibo had earlier struggled to hold tears as he tried answer the allegations linking him and former colleague, interim independent electoral commissioner, Douglas Mwashigadi, to the chickengate scandal.
He said that the allegations had not only ruined his reputation but also that of his family, adding that he has had a reputable career in the country. He went ahead to explain how he had to care for his friend and colleague, Mwashigadi, when he bled in a room when they had gone to visit Smith&Ouzman in London.
Other commissioners faced similar situations, with Letangule and Alawi asked to respond to the petition.
“I don’t know where to go with all this knowledge and experience I have gained while working in this commission if you remove us. I am asking you to give this team a chance,” Letangule said.
The Commissioners claimed they are exposed to double jeopardy as the two committees may arrive at different conclusions making the officer unable to decide on which team to submit themselves to.
Hon. Chepkong’a advised the commissioners to go to court if they feel that they are not being given a fair hearing by the joint committee.
Hassan asked the committees to dismiss the petition, claiming it was not directly targeted to a particular commissioner, which he said contravened Article 252 (1) of the Constitution.
The writer is a student of journalism at the Technical University of Kenya and intern writer at the Kenya Free Press, specializing in politics, sports, agribusiness and international affairs.