Claims of rigging in favour of Al Ghurair stalked process for over a year

A journalist looking through ballot boxes and nomination papers dumped outside Jubilee headquaters office in Nakuru on April 22, 2017 after the nomination process was called off due to anomalies experienced. PHOTO BY SARAH OTIENO

Allegations that the electoral body was determined to award the controversial Sh2.5 billion tender to Al Ghurair of Dubai began emerging last year.

This is after the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) technical evaluation committee identified the Dubai based firm as the only one technically qualified to deliver the tender in September.

The sequence of events surrounding the procurement, including battles in the Public Procurement Administrative Review Board (PPARB) fueled the claims.

Al Ghurair deal was affirmed at the PPARB but it lost the tender twice at the High Court and Court of Appeal. Yesterday was the third time, Al Ghurair was losing the tender only that this time it’s partial, as the Dubai firm will be allowed to print ballot papers for other elective seats.

IEBC first awarded Al Ghurair tender for supply and delivery for ballot papers, declaration forms and result declaration forms in October last year. One of the firms bidding for the deal moved to the board crying foul and citing irregularities.

However, the board dismissed the application by South Africa’s Pearl Media allowing the commission to sign the contract.

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The Coalition for Reforms and Democracy now NASA which had been enjoined in the case then moved to the High Court to appeal the verdict.

On February 13, Justice George Odunga quashed the contract and accused IEBC of failing to comply with the amended election laws of 2016.

The next day, on February 14, IEBC through lawyer Anthony Lubulellah, filed an urgent notice of appeal against Justice Odunga’s decision to quash the Sh2.5 billion contract and wrote to the registrar of High Court to immediately supply them with copies of proceedings to enable them execute the appeal. “Take notice that the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission is dissatisfied with the judgement of Justice Odunga and intends to appeal against the whole decision at the Court of Appeal,” said Lubullelah.

However on February 23, IEBC rescinded its intention to appeal and instead resolved to comply with the order and re-advertise.

On March 9, Court of Appeal declined to suspend Odunga’s ruling pending the determination of the appeal by Al Ghurair with Appellate judges Alnashir Visram, Wanjiru Karanja and Jamilla Mohammed saying doing so would only interfere with the electoral agency’s preparation for the August 8 elections.

On March 18, the PPARB asked IEBC to ignore the judge’s ruling saying he overstepped his mandate as the law requires that it is the only body that can order a Government entity to re-tender an irregularly issued contract.

In April, the Court of Appeal dismissed Al Ghurair’s appeal setting the stage for the commission to begin the process of identifying a suitable firm.

IEBC then resorted to kick-start the process through a restricted tendering which was marred with claims of rigging in favour of Al Ghurair.

When the commission opened bid documents, there was an altercation between IEBC and a director of one of the firms Sailesh Patel who claimed the whole deal was tailor made for the Dubai printer.

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