Why IEBC’s Akombe was pulled out of US-bound plane

IEBC commissioner Roselyn Akombe. FILE PHOTO | NMG
IEBC commissioner Roselyn Akombe. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

IEBC commissioner Roselyn Akombe was pulled out of a US-bound plane because she did not have official clearance, Interior ministry said.

Dr Akombe was held at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport on Wednesday morning before she got the nod of the head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua to proceed with her journey.

Dr Akombe played a key role in the management of the August 8 polls whose presidential results have been rejected by the Opposition candidate Raila Odinga. The IEBC declared President Uhuru Kenyatta the winner.

“There exists a code of regulation for public servants and officers who are paid from the public kitty. It affects even those in independent commissions because they are not private companies,” said interior ministry spokesperson Mwenda Njoka. 

“Dr Akombe sought clearance, which was given and she proceeded with her journey.”

The commissioner was en route to New York on Tuesday night when she was ordered out of her plane.

Reports indicate that the commissioner was held at the airport until Wednesday morning and was allowed to depart on a Kenya Airways flight after 9am.

She had presented a clearance letter but officials at the Immigration desk noticed it authorised her to travel to Dubai between July 27 and July 30, and not the US.

“Dr Akombe who is travelling to US for an official meeting was delayed at JKIA by officials who have since apologised. She returns on Sunday,” IEBC said on Twitter.

On Wednesday evening, the IEBC was unable to reveal the official engagement and the need for the apology given the Interior ministry maintained she had failed to secure clearance.

In 2012, former head of the civil service Francis Kimemia issued a circular demanding civil servants and holders of independent offices like the IEBC and the Judiciary to seek clearance before travelling abroad.

In 2013, a month to the General Election, then chief Justice Willy Mutunga was briefly stopped at the airport from travelling to Dar es Salaam because he lacked clearance.  

On Wednesday, multiple members of the Independent Offices indicated they were not aware of the circular and thought they only require clearance from their chairpersons.

They hinged their position on the fact that their offices are independent and not expected to take directions from any other office desk for official travel.

The detention of Dr Akombe sparked speculation on social media that she was fleeing Kenya following the dispute over the presidential vote.

Mr Odinga said on Wednesday he would go to the Supreme Court over last week’s presidential election results, ignoring calls by some election observers that he concede defeat to Mr Kenyatta.