Raila defends Azimio honchos’ meeting with ‘Cherera Four’ at city apartment
Azimio la Umoja - One Kenya coalition leader Raila Odinga has broken his silence amid reports that some senior members of the coalition visited four embatled electoral officials at a city apartment after the release of the disputed presidential election results.
Speaking during an interview with a local TV station on Tuesday, December 28, the former Azimio presidential flag bearer defended the visits, saying his team was in protest of the outcome of the poll and wanted to know “the truth'” of the intrigues that saw the four commissioners of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) reject the results announced by their chairman Wafula Chebukati.
“The politicians were justified to visit these commissioners because they were saying ‘No’. Our people were actually justified in finding out the truth because that was already ex post facto," Raila, who lost the election to President William Ruto, told Citizen TV on Tuesday night.
"The result had already been announced by Mr Chebukati. They wanted to know what actually transpired. They are making too much noise about it in the so-called tribunal,” he added.
A tribunal probing the four commissioners was last week told that Azimio Executive Director Raphael Tuju and suspended KANU Secretary General Nick Salat visited the four at an apartment that had been booked for them in Yaya after their presser at Serena Hotel disowning the results.
The commissioners, led by then Vice Chairperson Juliana Cherera, Justus Nyang’aya, Irene Masit and Francis Wanderi rejected the results announced by Chebukati on grounds that the final tally was "opaque".
The visists were confirmed by Simon Miller, the accommodations manager at Yaya apartments, who appeared before the tribunal led by Court of Appeal Judge Aggrey Muchelule on December 22.
The manager told the tribunal that the commissioners checked in on the evening of August 15 and checked out on the afternoon of August 19.
Apparently, they did not provide their personal documents or personally sign the log books upon arrival.
The bookings are said to have been made by one of the facility's returning customers Edwin Okwe, who booked three apartments on behalf of the commissioners.
“The commissioners did not sign the booking but their security details are the ones who signed. We had asked two of them to sign the documents on behalf of the rest and did not want to spend much time at the reception. Two payments were done via M-Pesa and one in cash by Edwin Ogwe,” Miller said.
The revelations were made during the hearing of the charges against Masit, who is the only commissioner of the 'Cherera Four' yet to resign.
CCTV footage from the apartments played at the session allegedly showed the suspended commissioner walking to the lift that would take her to the room. However, the video was not clear.
Meanwhile, during the recent interview, Raila said the commissioners were justified to differ with the IEBC chairman following the manner in which the final tally was conducted, claiming the chairman committed a great "crime against humanity".
He suggested that Chebukati should be prosecuted and jailed for allegedly abetting electoral fraud.
"In my view, Mr Chebukati is a criminal who should be prosecuted and sentenced to jail. What he has committed is a great crime against humanity and the people of this country. I strongly believe that he ( Chebukati) and not the other four Commissioners should be in the dock," Raila said.
According to Raila, the presidential campaigns and the activities on the polling day were conducted in a satisfactory manner, save for what he termed as vote rigging at the national tallying centre at Bomas of Kenya in Nairobi.
“Kenyans voted effectively and the process was fairly smooth, the only issue was to do with presidential elections and this was messed up at the tallying centre,” Raila said.
“For the first time, Kenyans saw an electoral commission that was divided, not in the middle, but four out of seven commissioners disputed the results, meaning a majority of the commissioners said the results were not a reflection of how Kenyans had voted,” he added.
Raila hits out at Supreme Court
Raila also faulted the Supreme Court for dismissing his petition challenging the election of William Ruto as Kenya's fifth President, saying the ruling was a big blow to the country's democratic space.
“It is a tragedy of justice and it was an even bigger tragedy when the Supreme Court confirmed that blatant kind of rigging of elections," the ODM boss said.
“I am not bitter because the elections are not for Raila Odinga, it is for Kenyans. We want an audit of these results so that Kenyans can have confidence come 2027 that they can go to the polls, cast their votes and that their votes will count,” he added.
On claims that Azimio lost the country's top seat over disorganization and failure to deploy agents across the country, Raila said: "You need not have agents. Why should you have to pay agents in all 46,229 polling stations? It is a misnomer, it is something which should not happen. The Commission failed Kenyans and they have continued to fail Kenyans. The blame should be directed where it belongs. Our votes were stolen at the tallying centre not at the polling station. There was nothing wrong on our side. Our campaign was one of the best and the most organised campaign throughout."
Raila also defended former President Uhuru Kenyatta against claims of betrayal in the August poll, saying he got overwhelming support from the former Head of State's Central backyard.
"Uhuru was not supposed to be campaigning for me. I am a politician in my own right and I am capable of campaigning and winning elections and he knows it. He did not use his position as the incumbent President to swing the results in my favour. He didn't use the security forces, he did not give instructions to the police, the National Intelligence Service (NIS), or (the) Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) to support me in any way," he said.
"I got a lot of votes in Uhuru’s backyard and that is where most rigging was done. I want to thank the people of Central Kenya for voting for me the way they did. I am very grateful to them for doing that."