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Auditor-General queries IEBC's Sh2.14 billion legal fees

By Daniel Psirmoi | March 15th 2017


Auditor General Edward Ouko has questioned the electoral body's payment of Sh2.14 billion in legal fees.

According to a report tabled in Parliament Tuesday, the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) was unable to account for the money, which it claims was used to pay 68 advocates that represented it in the presidential and other petitions as legal fees.

Mr Ouko, in his report, noted that the commission, as at June 2013, had outstanding pending bills relating to legal fees totalling Sh1.05 billion and questioned why the polls body went ahead to pay them more than Sh2 billion.

"A sample test of the 68 advocates that the commission instructed to represent it reveals that they have been paid Sh2.14 billion as part of the pending bills since June 2013," reads the report.

"The procurement and payment of these private legal services were done without the approval of the Attorney-General, contrary to the law. IEBC has not provided documentary evidence of the cases represented and the payments made to support the payments in excess of the pending bills," adds the report.

Ouko revealed that the audit established that letters of instruction were signed and owned by the director of legal services, and not the commission, contrary to the IEBC human resource and administration policies and procedures manual.

The Auditor-General at the same time pointed out that there was blatant disregard of the procurement laws, disclosing that IEBC irregularly used direct procurement to purchase a biometric voter registration(BVR) system service vendor support and maintenance services.

"The commission approved the direct procurement of the BVR system vendor support and maintenance services, awarding the contract at Sh157 million," said the auditor.

He noted that another similar contract worth Sh513 million was awarded after cancellation.

Ouko also poked holes into the procedure used to engage the services of five law firms that were paid Sh17 million, observing that the process was irregular as the firms were not pre-qualified. The law firms, according to the auditor, were also single-sourced, contrary to sections of the Public Procurement and Disposal Act, 2015.

Representation without valid contracts also emerged, with documentary evidence given to the auditor showing that 30 law firms were paid Sh328 million with no lawful contracts. "It is not possible to confirm the validity of the Sh328 million payments to these law firms," the report says.

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