Oswago blames graft at IEBC on juniors

Friday, October 30th, 2020 00:00 |
Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) former chief executive James Oswago.

The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) former chief executive James Oswago has blamed subordinate staff over corruption at the agency.

Oswago said staff at the commission’s procurement and tender committees were responsible for the irregular tendering process.

 “Though it was my duty to establish a tender committee and appoint the members, I had no mandate of directing the members on how they should perform their roles,” said Oswago.

He said during his defense hearing in a graft case against involving irregular award of Sh1.3 billion tender for supply of voter materials in 2013.

Procurement law

In his defense, Oswago told Milimani Anti-Corruption Court Felix Kombo that the tender committees were independent and answerable to the Commission’s Procurement Unit, not him.

Led in his defence by lawyer John Arow, Oswago narrated  that it was wrong to blame him, for failure by any tender committee to perform its duties.

“The procurement unit was responsible to ensure each tender committee does its work. The coordination of the committees’ roles was being done by the User Department,” he told court.

The court in May put Oswago and then IEBC  former deputy commission secretary in charge of support services, Wilson Kiprotich Shollei, to their defense for failing to comply with the law relating to procurement.

After hearing 36 prosecution witnesses, the court acquitted two suspects who had been charged alongside  Oswago.

 The magistrate said no case has been made against Edward Kenga Karisa and Willy Gachanja Kamanga.

In 2013, Oswago and  Shollei were charged with failing to comply with the law relating to procurement.

The two allegedly failed to ensure that changes made to the contract, which was awarded to Face Technologies Limited by the IEBC for the supply of Electronic Voter Identification, were approved by the commission’s tender committee.

The prosecution  also alleges that the they used their offices to improperly confer a benefit on Face Technologies Limited by approving payment of Sh1.4 billion for the supply of voter materials without ascertaining that the devices supplied were inspected, accepted and met the technical specifications in the contract.

In his lengthy testimony, Oswago distanced himself from tender scandal.

Raising concern

Oswago said that despite him raising concern that the commission was late in procuring the said electoral materials, the political class insisted that the commission goes ahead with the process. 

The court heard that the people who were present during the meeting include ODM leader Raila Odinga,Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka, William Ruto and Narc Kenya leader Martha Karua.

Oswago told Magistrate Kombo that the tender was cancelled twice citing several reasons, adding that the gadgets were delivered four days to the elections.

Earlier, former IEBC vice chairperson Lilian Bokeeye Mahiri-Zaja who was one of the prosecution witnesses, told the court that she did not know whether the procurement laws on the Sh1.3 billion tender was legally followed or not.

She told court that the Electronic Voter Identification Devices is a good technology, that could go a long way in curbing electoral fraud, but it required adequate time, proper planning and proper management of the system for it to work effectively.

The hearing continues on November 4.

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