Saturday night meeting led to resignation of IEBC bosses

IEBC commissioners Paul Kurgat, Margaret Mwachana and Consolata Maina when they resigned from the electoral agency. They met senior State officials before quitting.  [File, Standard]

A flurry of activity, phone calls and a night meeting held on Saturday sealed the deal that saw three electoral commission members resign.

On Monday, commissioners Consolata Maina, Paul Kurgat and Margaret Mwachanya resigned citing poor leadership by Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) chairman Wafula Chebukati.

The three reportedly met State officials, who included a senior politician, a senior State House official, a Cabinet secretary, a Principal Secretary and a senior intelligence officer, hours before their resignation.

According to sources, the Cabinet Secretary was tasked with inviting the commissioners to a meeting following the fallout at the commission that was escalated by the suspension of CEO Ezra Chiloba a week earlier.

Held retreat

The IEBC had held a retreat in Naivasha on Friday, where the commissioners failed to agree on how to bridge the rift in electoral body. It was then that they left, Kurgat for his Eldoret home, Maina for Nairobi while Mwachanya drove to JKIA and flew to Mombasa.

Initially, the State officers held talks with two of the three commissioners, but it was resolved that the negotiations also include a third commissioner.

A meeting was then set up for Saturday night. It was not clear if the final meeting involving all the parties was in Karen or Upper Hill in Nairobi.  

The heavy hand of the State in the IEBC tribulations was evident yesterday, as officers attached to the three electoral agency commissioners were yet to be reinstated. However, according to sources, those who resigned on Monday continued to enjoy police protection. The Standard could not, however, independently confirm this, as the police Spokesman Charles Owino declined to comment on the matter. 

On Tuesday, Chebukati protested the withdrawal of his bodyguards alongside those of commissioners Abdi Guliye and Boya Molu.  

By yesterday evening, the bodyguards had not been reinstated despite Chebukati formally writing to the Inspector General of Police Joseph Boinett to demand answers.

It has also emerged that the withdrawal affected acting CEO Marjan Hussein Marjan, whose police driver and bodyguard were recalled on Tuesday evening.

Civilian driver

Marjan discovered that his bodyguard and driver were missing on Tuesday evening as he left office after work. The acting CEO had to scout for a civilian driver to take him home.

“We are still waiting for a response from the police. It appears that the directive to recall the security officers was interpreted to mean all those attached to the commission members and staff,” IEBC communications manager Andrew Limo said, adding: “It’s not clear if all the officers left in solidarity or the directive was to withdraw all officers attached to the commission.”

On Tuesday, Chebukati held a meeting with the officer in charge of the Security of Government Buildings at Anniversary Towers to demand for an explanation.

The officer, according to IEBC staff, told the chairman the matter was beyond him, prompting Chebukati to fire off a formal protest to police headquarters. The police are yet to respond.

“The withdrawal of security is likely to expose the chairman and commissioners to security risks. The action undermines their effectiveness in executing the work of the commission,” IEBC said in a statement on Tuesday evening.

Chebukati has been enjoying the services of at least 10 bodyguards at any given time. Initially, he had two bodyguards but they were increased to six ahead of last year’s General Election following the murder of ICT manager Chris Msando.

Chebukati often traveled in a convoy of three vehicles; a lead car, his official vehicle and a chase car manned by the six cops.

Four of the officers are attached to his homes; two in Nairobi and two others in his rural home in Kitale. They have all been recalled.

This came even as pressure mounted on Chebukati, Guliye and Molu to quit and allow the country to reconstitute a new commission.