DPP wants voter bribery allegations against Wetang’ula investigated

NAIROBI, KENYA: Mr Moses Wetang’ula’s hopes of recapturing the Bungoma senatorial seat hangs in the balance after the Director of Public Investigations ordered investigations over electoral offences.

Mr Wetang’ula lost his seat last week following a successful electoral petition filed by his political nemesis, Musikari Kombo, over a litany of electoral offences.

Yesterday, The Standard learnt that Director of Public Prosecutions Keriako Tobiko had written to the Inspector General of Police, David Kimaiyo, instructing him to investigate allegations of voter bribery against the CORD co-principal.

Tobiko asked the police to urgently gather evidence on allegations that Wetang’ula committed offences of “treating” and bribing voters, to enable him decide whether or to prosecute him.

“Upon completion of the investigations, do forward the file to this office for consideration and appropriate action,” said Tobiko in a letter dated October 9.

The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) has announced that the by-election would be held on December 19.

Party primaries are planned for November 4 and candidates will present nomination papers on November 26 and 27.

In the petition, the High Court in Bungoma had been told that Wetang’ula was involved in voter bribery on February 22 in a Kanduyi hotel, where 21 clerics were attending a political meeting. They were given Sh260,000 to influence them to vote for candidates aligned to CORD, it was alleged.

“The giving out of money amounts to bribery, which is against the electoral rules, which influenced the voting pattern of the voters… The integrity of voting was compromised and it did not amount to an accurate, accountable and transparent election,” Justice Francis Gikonyo said in a judgement dated September 30.

He also ruled that there were numerous instances of double registration, interference with the vote tally, double voting and ballots pre-marked in favour of Wetang’ula.

In the letter to Kimaiyo, Tobiko says he had received a notice dated September 30 from the judge who nullified Wetang’ula’s election. The notice was copied to Chief Justice Willy Mutunga.

The notice conveys the judge’s finding of offences of treating voters and bribery of voters contrary to the Elections Act.

“The offences of treating of voters and bribery of voters contrary to Section 62 and 64 of the Elections Act, respectively were established against Moses Wetang’ula and the DPP is hereby notified to take further action,” said Judge Gikonyo.

It is understood that Tobiko has written to the High Court in Bungoma to supply him with a copy of the proceedings and judgment.

A candidate found guilty of electoral offences is disqualified from the election, according to the Elections Act.

Section 72. (1) of the Act states: “A candidate who, during a nomination or an election campaign engages in or knowingly aids or abets an agent or any person who supports the candidate to engage in bribery, violence or intimidation against the opponents of the candidate or any other person, under this part, shall be disqualified by the commission and shall not be eligible to participate in the elections.”

Wetang’ula was the only CORD co-principal elected to Parliament after the March 4 polls, after coalition leader Raila Odinga and his running mate, Kalonzo Musyoka lost the March 4 presidential election. Subsequently, Wetang’ula was appointed the minority leader in the Senate.

The dilemma facing Wetang’ula has fuelled the political duel between CORD and the ruling Jubilee coalition.

On Wednesday, CORD MPs reacted angrily to reports that the DPP had been asked by the judge to prosecute Wetang’ula.

The lawmakers accused the judge of being part of a “bigger and sinister” plot to ensure Wetang’ula is barred from vying in the by-election.

Shortly after the verdict, former Prime Minister and CORD co-principal Raila Odinga said: “The open injustice exhibited by the High Court was expected”.

“After the Supreme Court threw away our petition after the March 4 polls, the only remaining elected member of the CORD Summit was Wetang’ula, they were aiming at him and now they have hit the target,” he said.-standardmedia.co.ke

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