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IEBC to spend big on legal fees as petitions pile up

 IEBC Chairman Wafula Chebukati. [File, Standard]

After spending billions of shillings to conduct the just concluded General Election, the electoral commission is expected to spend more money in legal fees to challenge election petitions.

So far, the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) has spent Sh2.6b in legal fees in the past four years, a pointer to how election disputes hurt the taxpayer.

Every year, IEBC faces lawsuits from different organisations and individuals who feel dissatisfied with the commission's decisions.

By Monday, the electoral agency had received eight petitions challenging the presidential election results that declared United Democratic Alliance's William Ruto as the President-elect.

This comes as other politicians who lost in elections like Kirinyaga governor candidate Purity Ngirici (Independent) and outgoing Nakuru Governor Lee Kinyanjui (Jubilee) threaten to file petitions.

For the presidential election petition alone, IEBC will be required to hire lawyers among them legal researchers and an additional research team. As it stands, IEBC has recruited some of the finest guns in the legal space including former Attorney General Githu Muigai, lawyers Kamau Karori and Eric Gumbo who ordinarily don't come cheap.

According to the national government budget implementation review reports from 2018 to 2021, the commission spent 12.3 per cent of its total expenditure on legal fees with the highest being Sh859.3 million in the financial year 2017/2018. The commission spent Sh538m in the Financial Year (FY) 2020/21 in legal fees, Sh611m in FY 2019/2020 and 610.6m in FY 2018/2019.

Following the 2017 presidential election petition that saw the Supreme Court overturn the victory of President Uhuru Kenya, IEBC faced another court case filed by Third way Alliance leader Dr Ekuru Aukot for being excluded from the repeat polls.

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