IEBC on the spot over 2022 election budget

Tuesday, February 20th, 2024 06:27 | By
Auditor General Nancy Gathungu in a past event. PHOTO/Print
Auditor General Nancy Gathungu in a past event. PHOTO/Print

Questions have emerged over how the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) spent Sh2.35 billion on the 2022 General Election.

Auditor General Nancy Gathungu in her latest audit report for the 2022/23 financial year, poked holes in the commission’s explanations regarding the billions allegedly spent on legal fees, arbitration and compensation.

The Auditor General for instance, questions the Sh502.3 million allegedly spent on lawyers who represented the commission during the presidential election petition lodged by Azimio la Umoja leader Raila Odinga challenging President William Ruto’s victory.

The Auditor also questions the Sh713.8 million paid to law firms to represent it on other matters outside the presidential election petition.

The report notes that engagement terms in the letters of instructions indicated that the fees would be paid as per Advocates Remuneration Order but did not indicate any ceiling.

Specific charges

Further, it also raises concern that the fee notes did not indicate specific charges or rates in reference to the Advocates Remuneration Order.

Adds the report: “ln the circumstances, the accuracy and completeness of the legal dues, arbitration and compensation totalling Sh2,348,660,000 could not be confirmed.”

The Auditor states that the commission never provided instruction letters to support an expenditure totalling Sh158.96 million paid to the lead counsel and assistant counsel in the presidential election.

Reads the report: “In addition, the expenditure was in excess of the agreed chargeable maximum amount as per the instruction letters signed by the commission and the legal firms by Sh44,640,000.”

During the presidential election petition, IEBC hired 28 law firms to represent it in the petition.

Former chairperson Wafula Chebukati was, for instance, represented by former Attorney-General and Senior Counsel Githu Muigai, Erick Gumbo and Kamau Karori in the petition.

A report from the National Treasury tabled in Parliament in January last year showed that the lawyers who represented the electoral agency pocketed Sh567.3 million.

Of the Sh567.3 million, Prof Muigai’s law firm received Sh34.8 million while Senior Counsel Abdikadir Hussein Mohamed of the Abdikadir & Abdikadir Advocates pocketed Sh26.7 million.

Senior Counsel Kamau Karori of IKM Advocates received Sh26.7 million, with a similar amount going to another law firm, according to the report tabled in Parliament.

Law firms

Other law firms which represented the commission including Murugu, Rigoro and Company Advocates, Garane and Somane Advocates, SM Kilonzo Associates, Mukele Moni and Company Advocates, and Dr Mutubwa Law Advocates, JK Kibicho and Company Advocates, Wekesa and Simiyu Advocates, Tiego and Company Advocates, G and A Advocates LLP and Manyonge Wanyama and Associates Advocates were to share Sh20.9 million as legal fees, the report noted.

Other law firms that were paid Sh17.4 million each include Hassan Mutembei and Company Advocates, Sagana Biriq Advocates, Muchemi and Company Advocates and Ngeri, Omiti and Bush Advocates LLP, Kang’ethe Mola and Company Advocates, Ng’etich, Chiira and Associates Advocates, Samba and Odeck and Mulama Company Advocates.

Five law firms which were hired to provide research pocketed Sh13.92 million, the report concluded.
In the latest Auditor General’s report, Gathungu raises concern over the commission’s failure to provide agreement on fees chargeable.

The audit reveals that of the Sh2.34 billion the commission spent on the 2022 election, it failed to provide evidence supporting the expenditure.

The audit also raises questions over Sh8.9 million out of Sh674.96 million spent on domestic travel and subsistence for the January 5, 2023 by-election.

And apart from issues relating to legal fees, the audit has also unearthed other anomalies noted in the last general election including deficiencies in the Biometric Voter Registration (BVR) and Kenya Integrated Elections Management System (KIEMS) Kits controls, loss of election materials in various parts of the country, lack of a comprehensive asset register and irregular promotions.

Others are failure to fill vacancies, lack of segregation of duties, storage of equipment such as gas cylinders, irregular allowances, anomalies in motor vehicles and unregistered land.

On KIEMS kits, the audit shows that an analysis of their assets revealed that a total of five Morpho KIEMS kits went missing during the financial year while an additional 158 had been lost previously.

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