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MPs summon IEBC over Sh1 billion extra to lawyers in poll petition

By Moses Nyamori and Rawlings Otieno | Published Thu, March 8th 2018 at 00:00, Updated March 7th 2018 at 22:07 GMT +3
IEBC Chairman Wafula Chebukati, Vice Chair Consolata Nkatha (middle) with Commissioners addressing the Press at Bomas of Kenya, Nairobi. [Photo by Moses Omusula/Standard]

A parliamentary committee wants the electoral commission to explain why it has paid lawyers Sh2.1 billion instead of Sh1 billion since 2013.

The National Assembly Public Accounts Committee (PAC) also wants the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) to explain why it increased the cost of Biometric Voter Registration (BVR) system vendor support and maintenance by Sh61.6 million.

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The cost had initially been pegged at Sh31.7 million but was revised to Sh93.3 million.

The committee, chaired by Ugunja MP Opiyo Wandayi, is set to grill IEBC Chief Executive Officer Ezra Chiloba over the audit queries for three days starting Tuesday next week.

In his latest audit report, Auditor General Edward Ouko revealed that IEBC paid 68 lawyers it hired for presidential and other petitions an extra Sh1 billion.

“The commission as at June 30, 2013, had outstanding pending bills relating to legal fees totalling Sh1, 054, 889, 115," he said.

"However, a sample test of 68 advocates that IEBC instructed to represent them reveals that they have been paid Sh2,145,632,115 as part of the pending bills since June 30, 2013,” Mr Ouko added in the audit report for the 2015-2016 fiscal year.

“The commission has not provided documentary evidence of cases represented and payments thereof to justify and support payments in excess of recorded pending bills,” the report said.

Another Sh17, 756,345 was also paid to five law firms that were not prequalified to represent the commission in the courts.

Ouko further questioned the payment of Sh220, 400,000 for the supply of 290 printers instead of the 337 contracted.

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“Information availed in the year under review indicates that due to the delay in payment, the supplier sued the commission and an interest of Sh54, 223,524 was awarded for payment by (IEBC). The commission, therefore, incurred wasteful expenditure,” Ouko noted.

The commission paid Sh50.4 million to a firm it contracted to transport election materials in 2013, only for it to emerge that the company was neither contracted nor had it been registered then.

The commission could also not provide proper accounts on how it spent Sh1 billion in general expenses, including poll materials for Kericho and Malindi by-elections. The materials were delivered after the by-elections had taken place.

Cumulatively, IEBC could not account for Sh5.4 billion in the 2015-2016 financial year.