Still remaining uncontroverted are grave allegations in sworn affidavits by soon to be retired (IEBC) Chairman Wafula Chebukati and two outgoing Commissioners, Prof Abdi Guliye and Boya Molu, that four IEBC Commissioners (Vice-Chairperson Julianna Cherera, Justus Nyang’aya, Irene Masit and Francis Wanderi) attempted, in concert with members of the National Security Advisory Committee (NSAC), to unlawfully influence the announcement on 15 August 2022 of the presidential election results. As the four commissioners were recently appointed, they were expected to comprise the majority of the IEBC that would preside over the next elections due in August 2027. But now the four face impeachment after the National Assembly admitted four public petitions for their removal.
The germ of this issue arises from an affidavit by Chairman Chebukati and a more detailed exposition in that of Commissioner Abdi Guliye. Guliye claims that at 3 a.m. on 15 August 2022, Azimio La Umoja One Kenya agents, Hon Raphael Tuju, Senator Amos Wako and a lawyer Kyalo Mbobu met with the entire IEBC leadership, wherein Wako, a former Attorney General, entreated the IEBC not to operate “in a vacuum”, urging it to “consider the link between election results to be declared and the stability of the country” which he described as “the bigger picture”.
Guliye alleges Wako said he’d done it before as Attorney General. Tuju, in Guliye’s affidavit, wanted a win declared for Azimio candidate Raila Odinga, allegedly saying that doing otherwise would “plunge the country into chaos.” A suggested alternative was that the IEBC should force a run-off by altering the results it had. In his affidavit, Guliye infers a bribe offer ensued. When the IEBC chairman asked for a response from his Commissioners, the four ( Cherera, Nyang’aya, Masit and Wanderi) reportedly “agreed with the remarks of both Senator Wako and Hon. Tuju.” Twelve hours later, these four commissioners disowned the election result declaration by the IEBC Chairman.
Guliye next alleges that at 2 p.m. on the 15 of August 2022, they (Commissioners) all met a delegation of the National Security Advisory Committee (NSAC), including Hillary Mutyambai, the then Inspector General of Police, Lieutenant General Francis Ogolla, the Vice Chief of the Defence Forces, and (outgoing) Solicitor General Ken Ogeto. In Guliye’s recollection, the delegation was led by the Principal Administrative Secretary at the Office of the President, Kennedy Kihara, who did all the talking.
Initially, the IEBC Chairman thought the visitors were to discuss Assumption of Office protocols, but the representative of the Office of the President instead relayed a message of magnitude, specifically that “the blood of dead Kenyans” would be on the hands of the IEBC if it declared William Ruto elected. He claimed that even as he spoke, tribal clashes were breaking out in various places. Guliye says that the final NSAC message mirrored Tuju’s request for a run-off decision if IEBC could not announce a Raila Odinga victory. Again, just as during the 3 a.m. meeting, the four commissioners agreed with the visitors’ suggestions, while the Chairman and two commissioners (Molu and Guliye) demurred. The NSAC meeting ended at 3 p.m. The presidential election results were to be announced at 4 p.m., but violent disruptions delayed the final announcement until about 6 p.m. In the interim at 4 p.m. the four commissioners held a presser at the Serena Hotel denouncing the IEBC’s awaited announcement.
In Kenya, rarely do people go on the record with allegations of such high level chicanery. Is that the reason for the deafening silence in the case of affidavits by top election management officials no less? I think not; more likely is we are neglecting to pick up the trail. The Supreme Court declined the then Attorney General’s plea to expunge from the record the allegations citing want of subject-matter jurisdiction. Are we comfortable that the Kenyan media and usually alert civil society have dropped this issue, satisfied by the Attorney General’s court-room plea for protection of hardworking public servants just doing their job? I think the affiants should be cross examined rather than their allegations being buried. There is something here.
So why isn’t there a chorus demanding examination of these affidavits? Since the election, Azimio’s candidate Raila Odinga has demanded electoral justice, claiming that although he won the election by a large margin he’s the victim of inter alia a vast international right wing conspiracy. His running mate Martha Karua, his spokesman Makau Mutua and supporter NGO allies have sustained attacks against the Supreme Court over the last two months, but nary is a word ever said about the NSAC allegation.
It will take guts for this affair to be investigated to a logical conclusion.
If those making the allegations are lying, we must come down on them like a ton of bricks. If they told the truth, several people must surely answer before the law and the people of Kenya. For what they attempted to perpetrate is the quintessential electoral coup, of which Raila Odinga speaks often. A tribunal for the four IEBC Commissioners will clear up a lot of pending issues, hopefully to their advantage (or not).