Chiloba skins Chebukati alive as he unearths deep-seated business interests at IEBC

Unearthing what he called deep-seated business interests at the electoral commission, former IEBC CEO Ezra Chiloba has accused the commission Chairman Wafula Chebukati of personally engaging law firms that represented the commission on post-election poll petitions.

In a document presented to Parliamentary Accounting Committee chaired by Opiyo Wandayi, Chiloba says that in most cases, he was removed by Chebukati from overseeing procurement issues, with the chairman usurping his powers as the legal accounting officer to irregularly award contracts to his preferred advocates.

“As the Accounting Officer, I had the responsibility to ensure that contracts in all matters were awarded in accordance with the law. I wish to point out that most letters of appointments of advocates in relation to the petitions were signed after the fact (post-facto),” Chiloba wrote.

In other words, Chiloba said, he signed the letters after the cases had already been allocated and advocates were already in court on behalf of the commission.

“This was a fait accompli,” the ex-CEO concluded.

Further revealing the turmoil at the IEBC prior to and after the last general election, Chiloba gives a blow-by-blow account of how Chebukati, on several occasions, insisted on circumventing the law to advance his personal interests.

For instance, Chiloba said Chebukati could have pocketed about Sh30 million from the commission after his former law firm, Cootow & Associates, was awarded poll petitions contracts.

That law firm was awarded tenders in the petitions of Ikolomani and Likoni constituencies, Kilifi and Kwale counties y involving the Woman MP and Mombasa county Woman Representative.

Others are the Mombasa County Assembly Party List, the Nairobi County Assembly Party List and the Migori County Gubernatorial petition.

Chiloba said that while Cootow & Associates was pre-qualified to provide legal services to the commission in 2016, a year before Chebukati joined the commission, the chairman did not disclose that fact to the commission.

“I have every reason to believe that Chebukati had all along known or facilitated the allocation of work to his former law firm,” Chiloba said.

He said that when he approached Chebukati over the law firm, the chairman who indicated to him that he had resigned from the firm.

“I informed him that in as much as he might have resigned, the decision to have Cootow & Associates representing the commission was going to be major problem. Noting that the firm was already representing the commission, I reluctantly signed the letters,” Chiloba wrote.

Submitting as evidence that Chebukati favoured his law firm in the tenders, Chiloba said the chairman had direct contact with the Legal Directorate and rarely referred the issues to the Office of the Accounting Officer.

Chiloba said that no sooner had the chairman been appointed than he started complaining to him how a former commissioner, who was the Chairman of the Legal Committee, never gave Cootow & Associates work, despite the two having known each other.

“The assumption Chebukati made was that the Legal Committee awards contracts to law firms. This was farther from the truth and/or legal position,” Chiloba added.

Being the only lawyer at the commission, Chebukati also doubled as chairman of the legal committee.

Most of the issues discussed at the legal committee, according to Chiloba, found their way to the plenary, indicating Chebukati’s wide interests.

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