Chebukati fights favouritism charges
Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) chairman Wafula Chebukati yesterday defended himself against charges of incompetence in the execution of his duties and favouritism in the presidential election.
Chebukati also denied altering the presidential election results in favour of President-elect William Ruto saying the results announced reflected the will of the voters.
His lawyer Prof Githu Muigai told the Supreme Court there was a plan to engineer a constitutional crisis and there were attempts by State actors to interfere with the functions of the IEBC.
“The failure to declare a presidential winner would have plunged Kenya into a constitutional crisis with a hamstrung caretaker government that was limited in what it could do. One shudders to contemplate what would have happened constitutionally,” he said.
In his submissions, Muigai maintained the commission and Chebukati conducted the election competently.
“...This gentleman goes beyond anything we have ever had before. It (vilification) was personalised, vindictive and intended to lower his standing,” he said of Chebukati.
Muigai said the attack by the petitioners was unwarranted and should not have been allowed in court.
“The pattern of attack is the same since the Kivuitu-led commission. None of them has been allowed to leave office without vilification and a vindictive process being engineered towards them,” he said.
“I am certain Chebukati will one day be recognised as one of our great heroes in society,” he said.
He argued that it was not mandatory that the IEBC chairman must consult fellow commissioners before declaring the presidential results since he is the returning officer for the presidential election as prescribed in a gazette notice and IEBC regulations promulgated on April 27, 2017.
Muigai wondered why nobody protested Chebukati’s role as the presiding officer in the 2017 presidential election, the repeat election and the just-ended election.
“No one has ever complained about those regulations or no applications raised concern on the constitutionality of the regulations,” he stated.
He urged the judges to dismiss the petitioners’ application to have Chebukati removed from office, saying such powers are not vested in the courts.
Muigai also tore into the conduct of the four dissenting IEBC commissioners including Juliana Cherera, Francis Wanderi, Justus Ngang’aya and Irene Masit on August 15 when they stormed out of the national tallying centre at the Bomas of Kenya in Nairobi alleging that they had been locked out of the results’ verification process.
“The sanctimonious self-righteous pompous pontification of the four commissioners was an afterthought,” said Muigai.
In their affidavits, the four commissioners had accused Chebukati of unilaterally tallying, verifying and declaring the results of the presidential election without their involvement.
But submitting before the judges, lawyer Kamau Karori, for IEBC, argued that the role of verifying the results is vested in the commission as a corporate entity and not in individual commissioners.
“These commissioners are members of a commission, they are not the commission. Where the law refers to the commission, it is not referring to the commissioners but rather the body corporate established under the provisions of article 253 of the constitution,” he stated.
Karori went on to cite Section 11 IEBC Act which outlines the establishment of the secretariat and the commission, which consists of the commissioners and the secretariat. The lawyer argued that IEBC staffers were involved in the process of tallying and verifying the results and as such, Chebukati did not unilaterally run the show.