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Former Kenyan electoral chief denies graft allegations

In his evidence at the anti-corruption court in Nairobi, Mr James Oswago attributed the graft allegations to some staff of the commission.

Ex-Kenyan electoral chief distances himself from graft allegations www.theafricanstand.com
Former Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) CEO James Oswago

Former Chief Executive Officer of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) James Oswago defended himself on Tuesday against graft allegations involving the irregular award of Sh1.4 billion tender for the supply of voter materials

In his evidence at the anti-corruption court in Nairobi, Mr Oswago attributed the graft allegations to some staff of the commission.

The lawyer-turned-farmer said the staff at the commission’s procurement and tender committees were responsible for the irregular tendering process.

Mr. Oswago said though it was his duty to establish a tender committee and appoint the members, he had no mandate of directing the members on how they should perform their roles.

He said the committees were independent, answering to the commission’s procurement unit, not him.

While informing the court that the court has ruined him financially as he cannot travel outside the country to offer consultancy services of elections and management, Mr. Oswago said 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 been done by the user department,” he told chief magistrate Felix Kombo.

He took the defence witness box after they found that he together with IEBC deputy commissioner Wilson Shollei have a case to answer on the charges of failure to comply with the law relating to procurement and abuse of office charges.

After hearing 36 prosecution witnesses, the court acquitted two others who had been charged alongside Mr. Oswago. The magistrate said no case has been made against Edward Kenga Karisa and Willy Gachanja Kamanga.

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

The two allegedly failed to ensure the 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 IEBC tender committee.

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

Hearing of the defence continues Wednesday.

Hassan Juma

Written by Hassan Juma

Hassan Juma is an international reporter who graduated with a degree from The United States International University where he majored in Journalism and International Relations and he is currently working for African Stand as a senior reporter covering the Middle East, US, Asia, and Europe.

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