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Resigned IEBC commissioners return to office

Maina, Mwachanya who quit four months ago, yesterday returned to Anniversary Towers  ‘to see poll body chairman Chebukati’

George Kebaso @Morarak

Two commissioners of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) who dramatically resigned four months ago from the electoral body, on Friday returned to their Anniversary Towers offices.

An official who sought anonymity confided to People Daily that vice chairperson Connie Maina and commissioner Margaret Mwachanya came back in similar drama that occasioned their exit in April.

Although fellow commissioner, Paul Kurgat, who had also resigned, did not go to his 6th Floor office, the IEBC source said he had been seen at Anniversary Towers’s basement car park.

“Yes, there was drama at the basement early today when the two commissioners arrived. They demanded to access their parking spaces and asked whether their office locks had been changed. They also said they are still commissioners,” the source claimed.

It is understood that Maina and Mwachanya were at the office to see chairman Wafula Chebukati.

“The two are here to see the chairman. I can only report the purpose of their mission after I speak with the chairman,” IEBC communications director Andrew Limo said.

Journalists camped at the building for the better part of Friday afternoon seeking to know the truth about the two commissioners’ mission.

In April this year, Maina, Mwachanya and Kurgat said they had left the commission because they have no faith in the chairman’s leadership.

The announcement came days after Chebukati suspended chief executive Ezra Chiloba “because of procurement issues”.

Mwachanya, who read a statement on behalf of her colleagues, said: “With the mistrust at the commission, we feel that our positions as commissioners are no longer tenable. We regret to tender our resignations with immediate effect.”

But on Friday morning, the two, minus Kurgat returned to their offices, 14 days after the High Court in Nairobi invalidated their resignation saying they failed to follow the proper procedures when they stepped down.

In his ruling, Justice Wilfrida Okwany said the commissioners tendered their resignation via a press statement instead of writing to the appointing authority.

While dismissing the case challenging the IEBC quorum, Justice Okwany said because of the above anomaly, the commissioners were still in office because they failed to tender their resignation to President Uhuru Kenyatta.

During their resignation, they claimed under Chebukati’s leadership the electoral agency’s boardroom had been turned into “a venue for peddling money, misinformation and grounds for brewing mistrust.”

“The institution has continued to be dysfunctional with arbitrary decision making, leaking of internal documents to serve personal goals and pursuing of personal interests. All of which are against the laid down laws that govern the conduct of the commission leadership and staff,” they added.

They also faulted the manner in which decisions were being made at the commission including the move to send  Chiloba on a three-month compulsory leave.

Legislators have been calling for the disbandment of the poll body following resignation of four of its commissioners.

In April, the National Assembly’s Justice and Legal Affairs Committee called three remaining IEBC top officials—chairman Chebukati and commissioners Abdi Guliye and Boya Mulu—to resign, saying the commission, as presently constituted, cannot transact its business.

“If you are a commission that cannot work, cannot make a decision … the only reasonable thing to do is to resign,” committee chairperson William Cheptumo said.

The Constitution stipulates that any removal from office of a member of constitutional commissions, among them IEBC, can only be effected through the formation of a tribunal to investigate their conduct.

The other option is a member resigning of their own volition or through mutual agreement with the government as was the case with former officials of IEBC.   

“The functions of IEBC, including budgetary allocations, should be duly safeguarded by a functional commission. As a committee, we have recognised the fact that the commission lacks quorum and can’t function,” Cheptumo said.

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