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IEBC Chairman Issack Hassan has denied ever “eating chicken” – in the coded sense of taking a bribe – and has called a meeting today to discuss corruption allegations that have been made in a UK court.

“All the people mentioned by name should be investigated and those found responsible should be held accountable so that those of us who are innocent can be vindicated.

“I have taken nothing and yet I’m suffering for what I did not do. I feel very bitter and those who have eaten anything should be held accountable,” said Hassan yesterday, speaking exclusively to the Star in his office.

A UK prosecutor has filed written evidence in court implicating current and former senior officials of the commission whom he claims asked for and received bribes codenamed “chicken” to the tune of Sh50 million to give out ballot paper printing contracts.

Hassan said if the emails tabled in UK jurisdiction were true, then there is need for a proper investigation and prosecution of those involved in Kenyan jurisdiction.

“I personally think these email communications are very serious and they raise very serious allegations [against] people who are mentioned by their real names . . . I think there is need for proper and thorough investigation,” he said.

Hassan admitted that he was not sure the lucrative printing contracts awarded to a UK company went through competitive bidding.

“I don’t know, I think it was competitive,” Hassan said of the bidding process .

“I don’t have the full details [of the tendering process] because I was not the one who was handling the procurement. This is something that maybe James [Oswago] would have given more details on,” said Hassan.

Oswago is the former CEO is at the heart of the current scam and was forced from the IEBC helm over corruption allegations.

Hassan made these startling remarks even as he admitted that the information emerging from the investigation by the UK’s Serious Fraud Office and a London court is a strong case for a probe here in Kenya.

Hassan maintained his innocence and emphasised that he is never involved in the procurement process.

“As a Commission we deal with policy and oversight. We don’t micromanage procurement. We have been told by Treasury over and over again not to interfere with the work of the accounting officers and management in terms of procurement,” Hassan said.

Shocking prosecution documents filed in a London court have implicated high-flying Jubilee government officials, including Energy Cabinet Secretary Davis Chirchir.

Others extensively mentioned in the sleaze are Oswago, the Commission’s former deputy CEO Gladys Boss Shollei and senior procurement officer Kenneth Karani.

The documents indicate that the officials pocketed millions of shillings in bribes and that many of the printing contract costs were inflated by up to 38 per cent, mainly to cater for the kickbacks.

However, on his part, Hassan denied that UK printing firm Smith and Ouzman met his travel and hotel accommodation costs and those of other IEBC officials when they traveled to Britain.

“They gave us transport only from the airport to the hotel. But everything else was paid by the Commission,” he stated.

He also insisted that he could not remember writing an email to Christopher Smith, former chairman of UK printers Smith and Ouzman, informing him of an available contract, as alleged by the prosecution.

“I don’t recollect that email, it could have been a response to his email,” Hassan said. “Even if I did, it was not telling him here is the tender, here is the contract, print ballot papers. It was just telling him there would be a tender.”

He, however, admitted that he knew Trevy Oyombra, the alleged wheeler dealer who is said to have made hefty payouts to IEBC officials to influence the award of contracts.

Hassan said that he has met Oyombra only once, after he was introduced to him by Oswago as the local agent of the UK firm.

Hassan said that the anti-graft agency and the police should swing into action.

“This man called Trevy should be called to give his statement and explain those emails. This other man called Karani should be called to explain what is alleged in the emails.”

The Cord principals have called for the arrest and prosecution of those implicated.

“This scandal kills completely the credibility and global standing of our nation,” Cord leader Raila Odinga lamented.

– the-star.co.ke

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