Plaintiffs call for Chebukati's head over alleged bungling of presidential poll

IEBC Chairman Wafula Chebukati. [Boniface Okendo, Standard]

Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission chairman Wafula Chebukati was Wednesday, August 31, roundly condemned by petitioners challenging the presidential election results, who called for his sacking.

Senior Counsel Pheroze Nowrojee representing Azimio la Umoja leaders Raila Odinga and Martha Karua argued that Mr Chebukati “took the law unto himself” and has become an arrogant leader who cannot be trusted with the election.

“He has become like the thief in the market who when people run is shouting the loudest, saying thief! thief! when he is the real thief,” said Mr Nowrojee.

Mr Nowrojee said that despite the Supreme Court findings in 2017 that Chebukati presided over a bungled presidential election, he had not reformed but continued his unlawful actions resulting in a result that could not pass the test of credibility.

He claimed that Chebukati is a liar who has been contradicting himself and hoodwinking the public that he conducted a clean election when all evidence shows that he bungled the election and denied Kenyans their choice of leaders.

Raila’s chief legal advisor Paul Mwangi submitted that no other chairperson of an independent commission had treated its members as badly as Chebukati.

“It is worth noting that Chebukati has not had any complaints against the commissioners but all the commissioners he has worked with since 2017 have had complaints against him. He cannot impose himself as the super-head of the commission with the support of minority commissioners,” said Mr Mwangi.

Lawyer Paul Nyamodi representing the Youth Advocacy Alliance argued that Chebukati was not acting in the interest of the country when he stopped other commissioners from verifying presidential election results and took up the work himself.

Senior Counsel Pheroze Nowrojee. He is representing Azimio la Umoja leaders Raila Odinga and Martha Karua. [Collins Kweyu, Standard]

According to Mr Nyamodi, the chairman illegally appointed himself as national returning officer and did not appoint a deputy “when all other elections have both returning officers and deputy returning officers to countercheck all votes cast.”

Escape punishment

Lawyer Zehrabanu Janmohamed representing John Njoroge argued that Chebukati had violated the Constitution and should not escape unpunished for his acts and omissions.

“Our request is that the IEBC chairperson be prohibited from conducting any further elections in Kenya in view of his behaviour, and holding any public office for being in breach of Chapter Six of the constitution,” said Ms Janmohamed.

Lawyer Willis Ochieng representing human rights activists Khelef Khalifa George Osewe, Ruth Mumbi and Grace Kamau claimed that Chebukati had reduced the business of choosing the country’s president to a game of poker “where he tosses and decides who the winner is.”

Mr Ochieng argued that Chebukati conducted the presidential election so badly “that it does not matter who won the election” since he took the IEBC as personal property and ran the institution in total disregard of other commissioners, members of the public and other stakeholders.

Lawyer Ndegwa Njiru representing David Kariku Ngare argued that it was no longer tenable for Chebukati to continue holding office when he keeps on making Kenyans “live with anxiety” every election year.

“How long should we allow an individual to continue putting the lives of Kenyans in uncertainty through his actions? We can no longer trust him when he keeps on misleading the public and contradicting himself,” said Mr Njiru.

Mr Njiru said Kenyans were tired of Chebukati and that the tendency of people going to court every election year to complain about his conduct must end by him being declared unfit to hold public office.

Prof Tom Ojienda and Okiya Omtatah argued that it was not enough to nullify the presidential election without issuing sanctions against Chebukati for announcing results that did not emanate from the commission.

Prof Tom Ojienda. [David Gichuru,Standard]

Rogue public officer

Raila and Karua have in their petition claimed that Chebukati is a rogue public officer who committed an act of treason and is not fit to hold any constitutional office. They want the Supreme Court to charge him for violating the Constitution.

Their argument is that although the Supreme Court in 2017 found that the IEBC committed electoral fraud, they spared Chebukati from personal responsibility. That decision, they said, emboldened him to continue committing electoral fraud “which cannot be tolerated this time.”

“He set out with willful intent to subvert the will of the people and overthrow the constitutional order, and he must be called out for treason. He is in breach of the authority and trust assigned to his office by bringing dishonour to the country,” said the petitioners.

They claim that Chebukati failed to carry out his duties in a way that maintains public confidence, failed to treat the public and his fellow commissioners with courtesy and respect, failed to improve standards of IEBC performance, and failed to observe ethical professionalism.

According to Raila, Chebukati was engaged in conflict of interest when he acted as an agent of the United Democratic Movement through his personal assistant with the commission and subverted the law to illegally declare Dr Ruto as president-elect.

The lawyers claimed that Chebukati had caused IEBC to be dysfunctional, disunited, non-compliant with the law, and to be at loggerheads with the public.

They maintained that Chebukati should take personal responsibility for all the failures of the commission during the presidential election since he took the commission as a “personal belonging to manage in a manner he wished.”