The electoral agency spent Sh27 million on procuring explosives detectors and paying for accommodation for commissioners during the tallying of the presidential results in 2017.
The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) has cited swelling crowd outside Bomas of Kenya and volatile environment during the counting of the presidential vote, as a reason for incurring the expenses to procure security access system and other emergency services.
IEBC also spent additional Sh691 million to buy food for its staff during the 2017 General Elections.
The questionable expenditures have become a subject of investigations by the National Assembly’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) after they were flagged by the Office of the Auditor-General.
On Wednesday, the commission was unable to provide names of the hotels where the commissioners spent their nights during that time, only saying that they were adjacent to the tallying centre.
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Records revealed that the commission paid Bomas of Kenya Sh70,495,162 vide payment voucher No 1196A.
“Included in the payment were charges for security systems, accommodation for commissioners and hire of projectors which were higher than the negotiated contract rates. This resulted in an overpayment of Sh27,482,162 which has not been recovered to date,” states the audit report.
Details of the expenditure revealed that the commission paid Sh6.2 million for the accommodation of the commissioners and other staff, a figure which was higher than the negotiated Sh1.5 million.
Another Sh14.3 million was paid for security access system that included explosives and narcotic detectors, colour coded parking access cards, ex-ray scanners and walkthrough metal detectors. This amount was higher than the Sh12 million the commission negotiated with Bomas of Kenya.
The commission spent Sh30.6 million to hire extra digital screens, LED TVs, projectors and accessories at the national tallying centre.
Members of the committee, chaired by Ugunja MP Opiyo Wandayi, asked why the commission decided to procure security services, which were being provided by the government.
“Everything at the IEBC is always an emergency and negotiations. I saw General Service Unit (GSU) officers manage security at Bomas of Kenya; since when did IEBC start procuring explosives detectors?’ posed Garissa Township MP Aden Duale.
“Provision of security is a function of the national government, not the electoral commission,” he added, and questioned why the commissioners were accommodated outside Bomas of Kenya when the reason was alleged security threats to their lives.
“The commission has cited security threats as the reason for accommodating the commissioners at the national tallying centre, but you ended up having them spend the night outside Bomas of Kenya. Why couldn’t they just go and sleep in their homes?,” asked Wanadayi.
The commission’s acting Chief Executive Officer Hussein Marjan told the MPs that the decision was taken because of the volatile environment at Bomas. “Given the risk that arose due to volatile environment that unexpectedly unfolded during the tallying of the presidential results at Bomas of Kenya, the tension that developed in the country, and the fact that most of the staff of the commission were involved at the national tallying centre, the commission took the decision to accommodate its staff involved at Bomas,” Marjan said.
“The security agencies also advised the commission on the need to accommodate the other cadre of staff for security reasons. It was against this background that the directors, another cadre of staff and the lawyers were accommodated,” he added.
He told the team that the change on accommodation had not been envisaged during the planning stage. He added that the variation in the amount paid for the security access system was due to unanticipated increase in night shifts, a number of security cards issued and a number of explosive detector kits used.
He said the commission could not accurately estimate the number required during planning. “The additional cost had to be incurred to avoid compromising the security at the tallying centre and the said cost was duly-authorised,” he added.
The commission said that it was forced to hire extra digital screens, LED TVs and Projectors for public viewing of the election results.