President William Ruto yesterday sparked a renewed debate about the goings on at the national tallying center, Bomas of Kenya during the last presidential poll after he accused Chief of Defence Forces (CDF) General Francis Ogolla as being part of the cabal that sought to overturn his win during the August 2022 polls.
Speaking during a joint media interview at State House in Nairobi yesterday, president Ruto said in appointing General Ogolla as the Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) boss, his qualification outweighed what he termed as “his mistake.”
The military is an apolitical institution and the appointment of the CDF is follows file and rank and the recommendation is done by the Military Council Board.
He said he appointed the CDF boss, then serving as the Vice Chief of Defence Forces (VCDF) and a member of the top national security organ, National Security Advisory Council (NSAC), the president added that he appointed Ogalla to his current position despite advice from his allies to ignore him.
“Many things in my system outweighed the mistake that he had done. I appointed General Ogolla. General Ogolla was among the people who went to Bomas to try to overturn my victory. I had 10 choices, I could have appointed anybody, I decided against the advice of many people, they told me you should not reward this kind of behavior. He told me I made a mistake and I have no defence, do what you want, what I did was wrong. But when I looked at his CV, he was the best person to be General.” The president said.
Ruto said Ogolla might have made a mistake because the then Commander-In-Chief, retired president Uhuru Kenyatta had told him to go to Bomas but he was the most qualified General.
“I am so conscious that since independence, nobody from Nyanza has ever been a CDF, it also played in my mind that I don’t want a situation where a community think that they can’t occupy a certain office.” The president added.
In September last year, former Attorney General Kihara Kariuki said the National Security Advisory Committee (NSAC) members visited the immediate former Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) chairman Wafula Chebukati at Bomas of Kenya to discuss security matters and not the ongoing elections.
The meeting is said to have occurred on August 15 hours before Chebukati declared the presidential results, and the delegation included former Principal Administrative Secretary at the office of the president Kennedy Kihara, former Solicitor General Kennedy Ogeto, former Inspector General of Police Hillary Mutyambai and then Lieutenant General Ogolla serving as the Vice Chief of Defence.
In his affidavit, Chebukati said that the members attempted to subvert the will of the people, by asking him and the other commissioners to moderate the presidential results in favor of Raila Odinga.
The AG through his lawyer George Oraro however denied the claims, saying that discussions centred on security, alluding to the fact that at the time of the visit, tensions had started to build up in the country due to non-transmission of results.
“The visit to the IEBC tallying center was instigated as a result of the activities which had gone on August 13 and 14 2022 when there was suspension of transmission and displaying of the results,” he submitted.
Chebukati had also submitted that NSAC members asked him to ensure a runoff, if he couldn’t declare Raila Odinga as the outright winner in the 2022 presidential election, citing security reasons.
The IEBC Chairman noted that the message was relayed by Kihara, who cautioned that if he declared William Ruto as the President – Elect, ‘the country is going to burn’.
According to Oraro, Chebukati’s allegations tainted the image of the official, who he described as a Kenyan of integrity.
“The allegations made by the chairman are extremely grave and have irretrievably sallied the conduct of the official concerned and if proven can constitute an offense. The court views such allegations with great gravity,” Oraro stated.
Oraro further told the court that the mentioned NSAC members do not serve political interests.