The Sh3.8 billion contract for the supply of elections technology awarded to a French firm, Safran, is at the centre of Ezra Chiloba's suspension.
It has emerged that Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) Chairman Wafula Chebukati relied on an internal audit questioning the single-sourcing for the technology to kick Mr Chiloba out.
On March 24, 2017, Mr Chebukati convened an evening press conference where he announced that Safran had met the cut for direct procurement on account of its previous engagement with the commission in the 2013 elections, following disagreements on the mode of picking a supplier.
However, last Friday, according to commissioners, Chebukati presented a report questioning the system, known as Kenya Integrated Elections Management Systems (KIEMS), during a monthly plenary meeting. He asked the CEO, who was present, to step out.
He then produced the audit, which at that time had not been seen by any of the commissioners, and asked them to read it before voting on the proposal to suspend the CEO.
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“The Commissions' plenary meeting held on Friday, April 6, received and discussed an audit report on some procurement matters. Subsequently, it was decided through a majority voting to expand audit scope and that the CEO proceeds on compulsory leave for three months,” Chebukati said in a statement.
However, vice chairperson Connie Maina and Commissioner Paul Kurgat, who walked out in protest during the plenary, have criticised the manner in which the CEO was suspended.
The two wondered why Chebukati relied on an internal audit touching only on the ICT procurement instead of waiting for the ongoing special audit of the 2017 elections by the Auditor General. The internal audit has not been made public.
Mr Kurgat said they were ambushed with the audit, which they were not aware of and whose details they were not given time to grasp.
“The CEO is supposed to co-ordinate responses to all queries raised by the external auditors but his removal means that he will not be available to respond appropriately and thus this will sabotage the exercise,” he said.
Ms Maina maintained that the decision to send Chiloba on compulsory leave was irregular. She said the commission would hold another meeting to discuss the development.
“The CEO wrote Monday to inform me of the memo from the chairman. We are waiting for the chairman to return to the country by 12th so we can hold a meeting to discuss the issue,” she said.
By yesterday, it was not clear if Chiloba had complied with the directive to take leave.
Meanwhile, the National Assembly Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has asked Chebukati to explain the audit queries that informed his decision to suspend Chiloba.
PAC chairman Opiyo Wandayi (Ugunja) yesterday said the fall-out at IEBC could indicate a major plundering of public resources that the State agency should explain to Parliament.
“We may seek to hear from Mr Chebukati about the latest development in IEBC, particularly if there are any audit issues concerning the matters we have been interrogating,” said Mr Wandayi.