Juliana Cherera: Wafula Chebukati announced unverified results

IEBC chairperson Wafula Chebukati and his vice, Julian Cherera, at the Bomas of Kenya on August 22, 2022 during a meeting with candidates from eight areas where elections had been postponed. [Denish Ochieng, Standard]

Vice-chairperson of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) Juliana Cherera has said in her petition response that Wafula Chebukati proceeded to announce presidential results despite conflicting figures in some forms 34A and 34B.

Raila Odinga and Martha Karua have sued the IEBC and its seven commissioners after William Ruto was announced the presidenbtial race winner in circumstances that the Azimio candidates are disputing.

In the suit filed at the Supreme Court, Odinga is the first petitioner while Karua, his running mate, is the second petitioner.

The two listed the IEBC as the first respondent, IEBC chairperson Wafula Chebukati (second), commissioners Boya Molu (third), Abdi Guliye (fourth), vice-chairperson Juliana Cherera (fifth), Justus Nyang'aya (sixth), Francis Wanderi (seventh), Irene Masit (eighth) and William Ruto (ninth).

Odinga and Karua allege that Chebukati declared presidential results without verifying the results from 27 constituencies.

The petitioners also claim that forms 34A obtained at the polling stations were hijacked and changed before being uploaded to the IEBC portal.

Responding to this claim, IEBC Commissioner Justus Nyang'aya (sixth respondent) said in his affidavit on Friday that a foreigner and three IEBC staff members intercepted forms 34A on the IEBC portal and changed the results.

Odinga, in his petition, also alleges that his votes were reduced in William Ruto's Bomet and Kiambu strongholds. On the other hand, Ruto's votes in the two areas, Odinga says, were increased significantly.

And now, Juliana Cherera (fifth respondent in the suit), says that her boss, Chebukati, announced results that had not been fully verified and certified by all the seven IEBC commissioners.

Cherera said at 1:20pm on August 15, Chebukati, after unilaterally processing the results, asked her and the other five commissioners to join him at the Bomas of Kenya boardroom.

"At 4:30pm, the chairperson proceeded to issue the commissioners with a document containing what he termed as (sic) a summary of the presidential election results, which he alleged he had tallied and verified from the back-end of the server," said Cherera.

In the lead-up to the results declaration, the presidential candidates' agents clashed, with those allied to Raila Odinga alleging that the digital results from certain constituencies and polling stations were not in harmony with those recorded on the physical forms.

As Chebukati prepared to announce the results, Odinga's agents stormed out of the venue in a huff, protesting that the IEBC chairperson had decided to formally release the poll outcome without tallying and verifying results from 27 constituencies.

Odinga's chief agent Saitabao Kanchory, consequently, described Bomas of Kenya presidential tallying centre as a "crime scene".

In her petition response, Cherera says: "The chairperson did not indicate how the errors and concerns raised by the representatives of the presidential candidates and political parties were dealt with."

She said during the commissioners' August 15 meeting at Bomas, they asked Chebukati to address the agents' concerns, "but the chairperson indicated that he would announce the results, and that the commissioners were at liberty to join him at the podium".

"The chairperson then walked out of the meeting, leaving behind the commissioners and proceeded to the auditorium of the national tallying centre. I, together with commissioners Francis Wanderi, Justus Nyang'aya and Irene Masit, left the meeting room after the chairperson walked out after disregarding the issues raised by the commissioners."

Cherera further said: "On August 15, 2022, the chairperson proceeded to announce what he termed as the presidential election results, which had not been tallied and verified by the commission. The commission had not completed tallying and verifying the results. Repeated attempts by the commissioners to ensure the [verification] process is undertaken was ignored by the chairperson."

Cherera also alleges that Chebukati did not give them a copy of Form 34C that he relied on to announce the presidential results.

The IEBC vice-chairperson has listed the 27 constituencies whose results, she said, had not been publicly announced before the president-elect was declared.

The constituencies are Bomachoge Borabu, Bura, Eldas, Fafi, Kacheliba, Kajiado East, Kanduyi, Kapenguria, Kilifi North, Kitutu Chache North, Kuria East, Mandera West, Matuga, Mbeere North, Mvita, Narok North, Narok South, Narok West, Ndaragwa, Ndhiwa, Nyakach, Rangwe, Suba North, Tigania East, Wajir North and West Mugirango.

"The results read out at the national tallying centre had variances and errors which representatives of the presidential candidates and political parties brought to the attention of the commission verbally and in writing," said Cherera.

The vice-chairperson gave an example of Kiambu County, where at one of the polling stations Odinga allegedly got 111 votes instead of 11. She also said that at a certain constituency within the same county, Ruto was added 10,000 voters that he didn't deserve.

"The errors pointed out by the representatives of the presidential candidates and political parties were never addressed by the commission because the chairperson refused to accord an opportunity to do the same."

Chebukati had accused the four breakaway commissioners of attempting to force a rerun by vouching for Odinga in the presidential votes tallying. Cherera denies the claims.

"At no point did any commissioner seek to moderate election results as their constitutional mandate is to tally and verify results, which does not amount to 'moderation' of results as alleged by the chairperson of IEBC. Had the chairperson allowed presidential results to be tallied and verified as required by the law, the issues now being contested before the Supreme Court would most likely not have arisen."

Cherera also said Chebukati declared results without indicating the total number of registered voters and the total number of valid votes cast to support the percentages that the presidential candidates scored.

"Consequently, the results of the presidential election declared and announced by the chairperson of the IEBC on August 15, 2022 were not of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission."

The IEBC on August 15 declared William Ruto of UDA the winner of the presidential election with 7.18 million votes (50.49 per cent) against Odinga's 6.94 million (48.85 per cent).