IEBC boss installs new locks to thwart ex-staff

By Geoffrey Mosoku and Paul Ogemba | Tuesday, Aug 28th 2018 at 09:20
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The electoral commission boss has foiled repeated efforts by two commissioners to return to work.

Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) chairman Wafula Chebukati locked out former commissioners Nkatha Maina and Margaret Mwachanya, who had tried to enter their old offices.

Mr Chebukati replaced the locks on the office doors, keeping out the ex-employees who announced their resignation four months ago.

He told journalists that the two first went to the IEBC offices in Anniversary Towers last Friday, saying he was surprised they had retained their keys, which they used to gain entry.

Ms Maina and Ms Mwachanya returned to the offices yesterday morning and requested to see Chebukati.

“I didn’t manage to see them but I asked them to go and put in writing what they want to see me about. If and when they do so, then we shall address the issues they may want to deal with,” Chebukati said.

The IEBC boss insisted that the two, as well as Paul Kurgat, who resigned as commissioners on April 16, had since cleared with the commission and could not therefore return to work.

Nkatha and Mwachanya have not issued a statement or answered any questions on their mission - phone calls and texts to their phones have gone answered.

Surrendered laptops

When they resigned, they surrendered IEBC-issued vehicles, laptops, phones, badges and insurance cards.

“All the assets were returned and as far as the commission is concerned, they are no longer commissioners for the IEBC," Chebukati said.

“As far as we are concerned, they are not supposed to be working here. This has to be made very clear to the country that there is no place for former commissioners in the IEBC."

This came as activist Okiya Omtatah filed a court petition to stop Maina, Mwachanya and Kurgat from returning to IEBC or conducting themselves as commissioners pending determination of the dispute.

According to Mr Omtatah, the commissioners publicly tendered their resignations on April 16 and could not reverse their decisions.

“They have demonstrated their shameless resolve to resume duties, some five months after voluntarily resigning from IEBC. Everyone knows they had vacated office,” he said.

The commissioners resigned following Chebukati's decision to suspend CEO Ezra Chiloba, saying they had no faith in the chairman's leadership.

Maina and Mwachanya were allegedly basing their return to work on a decision by Justice Wilfrida Okwany that found they did not resign legally.

But Omtatah argued the commissioners misinterpreted the judge's decision since she did not allow them to resume their duties.

“The judge deliberately left that issue and said only another court can determine matters concerning their resignation. It is erroneous for them to claim that the court found they had not resigned and are therefore still IEBC commissioners."

He argued that Maina, Mwachanya and Kurgat were State officers who were bound by the IEBC code of conduct, but they had engaged in conduct that made them ineligible to hold any public office.

As proof that the three had resigned, the activist attached their signed clearance forms from IEBC and a notification from the commission stopping their salaries and allowances. The forms show that Maina cleared on May 29, Mwachanya on June 4 and Kurgat on May 7.

Omtatah also attached three affidavits they separately swore in previous court proceedings to confirm their resignations.

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