Sabina Chege loses round one in rigging remarks case


Murang'a Women Rep Sabina Chege, when she appeared before the IEBC's Electoral Code of Conduct Enforcement Committee yesterday at the IEBC headquarters office Anniversary Towers, Nairobi [Edward Kiplimo, Standard]

Murang’a Woman Rep Sabina Chege has been ordered to appear before an Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) committee over alleged rigging remarks she made at a rally.

The Electoral Code of Conduct Enforcement Committee yesterday overruled objections by her legal team, led by Siaya Senator James Orengo and Rarieda MP Otiende Amollo, who had argured that IEBC had no jurisdiction to handle the case.

The lawmakers argued that it was the Judiciary that should handle matters related to vote rigging, and that IEBC was overreaching its mandate.   

Chege’s legal team said the election campaign period had not been gazzetted, hence the enforcement of the Elections Act would be untenable.

“It is not a campaign period and she is not subject to a code of conduct. The moment you try to deal with this matter, Chege will not be on trial by this commission,” said Orengo.

“The honourable thing for the committee is to withdraw from dealing with this issues... the words contained cannot be a substance upon which you can enter into an inquiry.”

But it was this argument that the IEBC used to pin down Chege and her legal team.

Chairman Wafula Chebukati said the code of conduct has a lifeline, which begins from the day a notice of the General Election is issued to the day of the swearing in of the elected leaders.

IEBC gazetted the elections on January 20.

Chebukati, who chairs the committee, argued that Chege was subject to the electoral code of conduct as she is a member of the Jubilee Party and a Woman Rep.

“The Electoral Code of Conduct Enforcement Committee has jurisdiction, and the committee is legally seized of the matter. The preliminary objection is dismissed, and the matter proceeds to a full hearing,” he ruled.

According to the ruling, Jubilee is a registered party, which has submitted its nomination rules to the commission and given indication than it will be participating in the August polls.

Chege is now expected to defend herself on Tuesday.

She had been summoned over remarks she is said to have made during an Azimio la Umoja rally in Vihiga alluding that Jubilee Party manipulated the 2017 election results.

She is said to have indicated that a similar case was possible in the August 9 polls.

Her legal team is now preparing for her defence when the committee start the hearing.

Narok Senator Ledama ole Kina pressed the Chebukati team to name the complainants, arguing that the move could be a political witch-hunt.

“Instead of targeting Sabina Chege let them open the servers that they refused to open. Tell us who the complainant is or give us the report. We know there might be forces behind all this,” he said.

Amollo added: “They have introduced the concept of integrity of the said polls and we all know what happened in 2017.”

Should Chege be found guilty, she may be issued with a warning, fined up to Sh1 million or be disqualified from vying in the August polls.