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Blame game continues as counties say they received copies of 'defective' BBI report from IEBC chair

By Jacob Ng'etich | April 25th 2021

Uasin Gishu County Assembly during the debate of the Constitutional Amendment Bill, 2020. [Christopher Kipsang, Standard]

The blame-game on who bears responsibility for the typographic errors and counter referencing of non-existent Articles in the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) referendum Bill has now sucked in the county assemblies.

Several county assembly speakers who spoke to The Sunday Standard confirmed receiving a hard copy from the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) chair Wafula Chebukati, alongside its certificate for the referendum drive.

This emerged even as the joint parliamentary committee of the Justice and Legal Affairs turned the heat on the IEBC that transmitted the Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Bill, 2020 to counties in January, a day after the latter shifted blame to the proponents.

On Thursday evening, Chebukati sought to exonerate his commission from any wrongdoing, clarifying that they received six copies of the Bill from the promoters led by BBI co-chairs Junet Mohamed and Dennis Waweru in December 2020.

After verification of the signatures, Chebukati said they informed the promoters and received more copies, which were transmitted to speakers of the 47 county assemblies, together with the commission’s certificate that the initiative had met the one million threshold.

“The commission requested the BBI promoters for additional printed copies of the Bill for onward transmission to the county assemblies in January. On the same date, the promoters delivered 57 printed copies of the Bill, out of which the commission submitted 47 to the county assemblies,” said Chebukati.

Surprisingly, the Bill is not uploaded on the IEBC website. On the Kenya Law Reform Commission website, the uploaded Bill was the one released by the defunct taskforce in Kisii dated October 21, 2020 and not the latest one dated November 25, 2020.

But on Friday, the co-chairs of the JLAC Okongo Omogeni and Muturi Kigano confirmed that 32 counties received copies with non-existing reference of Article 87(7) instead of Article 89(4) of the Constitution which reads: “If a General Election is to be held within 12 months after the completion of a review by the commission, the new boundaries shall not take effect for purposes of that election.”

Though the MPs declined to go into the details of the errors, dismissing them as negligible as captured in the observation of the report to be submitted to Speaker Justin Muturi (National Assembly) and Ken Lusaka (Senate), the admission raises a red flag.

Nandi Speaker Joshua Kiptoo said his team was going through the copy of the Bill they passed against those of a number of counties to verify if there were discrepancies. But a curious admission by Nyamira Speaker Moffat Teya indicates that county assemblies could have further mutilated the document during voting.

Bungoma Speaker Emanuel Situ said his assembly received a hard copy of the BBI Bill from the IEBC chair. Nyeri Speaker John Kaguchia, Murang’a Speaker Nduati Kariuki, Embu Speaker Josiah Thikiru, Kiambu Speaker Stephen Ndicho and Nakuru Speaker Joel Kairu all said their assemblies received hard copies from IEBC.

[Jacob Ngetich, Lydiah Nyawira, Kennedy Gachuhi, John Shilitsa, Weldon Kipkemoi, Anne Atieno and Olivia Odhiambo]

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