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Monday, December 6, 2021

IEBC defends allegations of sabotaging the BBI process

By The Frontier Post Reporter

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The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) has dismissed ongoing claims indicating that it transmitted different versions of the BBI Constitutional Amendment Bill 2020, to the county assemblies.

In a statement to newsrooms Thursday evening, the electoral agency instead insists that it only submitted copies it had received from the Building Bridges Initiative Secretariat Co-chaired by Junet Mohamed and Dennis Waweru.

According to IEBC chair Wafula Chebukati, the commission had requested the BBI Promoters for additional printed copies of the bill for onward transmission to county assemblies after an initial six copies were sent to the commission during verification of signatures.

“The BBI Promoters delivered to the commission fifty-seven (57) printed copies of the Bill, out of which the commission submitted forty-seven (47) copies to the county assemblies” Chebukati reiterated in the statement.

His response comes amid concern that the BBI process had dived into turbulence after claims that only 13 county assemblies received the right version of the legislation for consideration.

This has been cited as one of the reasons behind the perceived stalemate in parliament that has allegedly stalled a decision on the BBI Bill from the August House.

There has been a growing concern on the fate of the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) Constitutional Amendment Bill 2020.

IEBC has been put on spot for claims that it could have send two varied BBI documents to the County Assemblies that considered the bill.

It has now emerged that only 13 County Assemblies debated and passed the correct bill that is supposed to be considered by the bicameral parliament.

BBI Taskforce co-secretary lawyer Paul Mwangi said that the Constitution requires a promoter of a popular initiative to submit to IEBC a draft Bill with the signatures.

Mwangi argued that IEBC then submits the bill to each county assembly.

“BBI Secretariat gave a bill to IEBC. One bill. Only that bill could have been circulated to all County Assemblies,” he said.

He went on: “IEBC Chairman Wafula Chebukati says he gave the BBI bill to the Speakers in all 47 County Assemblies and a copy to the Speakers of the Senate and the National Assembly. Yet some people want the country to believe that the two Speakers have a different version of the bill.”

ODM Political Affairs Secretary Opiyo Wandayi (Ugunja) said that the enemies of the BBI, and by extension the Handshake, have found useful allies in the joint parliamentary committee of justice, legal and constitutional affairs.

“They have teamed up to derail the BBI and eventually scuttle the Handshake. That’s why they are throwing a spanner in the works at every turn. They must not be allowed to succeed in their nefarious plans,” said Wandayi.

National Assembly Justice and Legal Affairs Committee Vice Chair Otiende Amollo said that the role of Parliament cannot be ceremonial.

“Nothing can be law in this country without stamp of senate and national assembly and that includes the constitution. It is alleged that 35 counties got the right BBI version and 12 did not, the 35 passed it any way,” said Amollo during a breakfast show meeting yesterday.

Nandi Senator Samson Cherargei who is also a member of the Senate Justice and Legal Affairs said that the Director of Criminal Investigations (DCI) DCI should investigate if there is a possibility that there are some people within the government trying to sabotage BBI.

“It is important to investigate why only 12 counties received the correct BBI version. If we had done BBI scrutiny, we would not be where we are now. It looks like people in the government are trying to sabotage BBI,” said Cherargei.

However, IEBC Chairman Wafula Chebukati on Wednesday dismissed claims that the electoral body presented a wrong bill or two varied BBI documents to the County Assemblies, maintaining that that the commission received printed hard copies of the draft Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Bill, 2020 from the promoters.

“The Commission forwarded the same to the speakers of the 47 county assemblies as well as Speakers of the Senate and the National Assembly,” said.

The anomalies were flagged by the two consultants the parliamentary joint committee engaged to advice on the issues that arose during public hearings to promote the Bill.

Makueni Senator Mutula Kilonzo admitted that Prof Patricia Mbote and Dr Collins Mbote exposed the variance when they made their presentations to the committee on Monday that the Bill on the Kenya Law Reform (KLR) website is different from the one the experts were offered by Parliament. 

“The mistakes are mere typos that don’t touch on the substance of the Bill. They’re simple mistakes that we have been told Parliament can amend,” Mutula is quoted to have said.

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