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Eight officials sacked as IEBC calls off elections for four seats

By Rodgers Otiso - Aug 8th 2022
IEBC officials carry ballot boxes for Kajiado North polling station at Oloolaiser High School. [David Gichuru, Standard]

Eight IEBC officials from Homabay, Kisumu and Bungoma counties have been arrested and sacked after they were found meeting two candidates for parliamentary and county assembly.

The electoral commission dismissed and replaced four officials in Ndhiwa Constituency and three in Webuye East respectively.

County Returning Officer Fredrick Apopa confirmed IEBC had dismissed the officials who were arrested after they reportedly held a secret meeting with two candidates. One of the candidates is seeking the MCA seat and the other one is eyeing a parliamentary seat.

Apopa said the four were a presiding officer of a polling station in Kanyadoto Ward, two deputy presiding officers of two polling stations in Kanyadoto Ward, and a clerk of a polling station in Kwabwai Ward.

The suspects had been handed over to IEBC for further action after their arrest.  Preliminary investigations indicated that the officials had held a secret meeting with the candidates in a homestead at Riat village in Kanyikela ward on Sunday.

"The officials violated the electoral code of conduct by meeting the candidates," Apopa said, adding that IEBC terminated their contracts for attempting to taint the reputation of the commission.

He added: “What they did has lowered their credibility and they can no longer be trusted as election officials. That is why they have been dismissed.”

The police said they have invited the residents who arrested the four to record statements and shed more light on the incident.

A deputy presiding officer was arrested in Nyando constituency and taken to DIC offices in the area for questioning. Reports indicated that the returning officer was captured in a video trying to persuade a Presiding officer of another polling station to favour a certain candidate whom he did not disclose.

In Bungoma, the County Returning Officer Grace Rono told The Standard the arrested officer was found in a politician’s home in the company of two colleagues who managed to escape.

“He was accosted in the home of a politician, I don’t know what he was doing there so he was arrested but his accomplices managed to escape.”

But Ms Rono dismissed claims that the official, a deputy presiding clerk had ballot papers in his possession. 

“We had not opened ballot boxes by the time the official was being arrested.”  

The suspect is being held at Webuye police station.  “We have dismissed the three because they went against the oath,” said Rono.

IEBC County Returning Officer Mohamed Laka said a pickup hired to deliver some of the non-strategic materials including polling booths, rubber stamps and ballot box seals to the Tharaka constituency tallying centre at Kathwana was intercepted by some residents and after an argument, some materials were destroyed in the pandemonium at Kaanwa in Chuka Igambang'ombe.

The car which was escorted by a police car at a distance was spotted by some residents at Kaanwa, a livestock sales market centre, who claimed it was ferrying election material.

Tharaka Nithi County Police Commander Donata Chari said police helped to salvage what could be saved from the incident and proceeded to their destination.

No arrests had been made on the incident by Monday evening though police said the residents who were at the scene of the accident had confessed that they were trying to thwart a possible rigging scheme.

IEBC was forced to suspend elections for the Mombasa and Kakamega governor races, Kacheliba and West Pokoto MCA elections due to printing errors.

In West Pokot, confusion was witnessed after IEBC officials discovered some ballot papers for members of the National Assembly in Kacheliba and Pokot South had printing errors.

According to the constituency returning officer Wilson Kimutai, the officials discovered the names of candidates vying for members of the national assembly had candidates from the Pokot South constituency.

“When we checked, we realised the ballot papers have candidates for Pokot South constituency. I have communicated the same to the commission. The decision will be made by the commission,” Kimutai said.

Kimutai said the other ballot papers for President, gubernatorial, Women Representative, Senate and Member of county assembly were all confirmed to be correct.

“The ballot papers have been printed with correct constituency name, wards, and polling station codes for Kacheliba, but candidates belong to Pokot South. The names, photos and symbols belong to candidates in Pokot South,” he explained.

In Pokot South, Kenya Union Party candidate David Pkosing raised concern after ballot papers meant for members of the National Assembly had names and photos of candidates from Makueni.

In Nakuru, the government has lifted the dusk-to-dawn curfew in parts of Elgeyo Marakwet, Baringo and West Pokot Counties for three days to enable members to vote.

Rift Valley Regional Commissioner Maalim Mohamed said the residents will be allowed outside at night from Monday to Wednesday.

Mr Mohamed said after the three days, the curfew will resume for the 45-day period set by the government.

The curfew was imposed by Interior CS Fred Matiang’i and gazetted on June 4, to pave way for security agencies to conduct operations against banditry in the area.

The curfew extended for 45 more days on June 7, is effective between 6pm and 6am. It will end on August 20

Maalim dismissed claims that some of the Polling Stations had been moved due to insecurity concerns.

He said the three counties are secured and more officers have been deployed to ensure the elections are free and fair.

“The same way KCPE and KCSE examinations were done, the government will ensure there is security in the region,” he said.

He added that for a polling station to be moved, it must be gazetted and cautioned Kenyans against spreading propaganda and fake news that hold no water.

The region has received vehicles, fuel, personnel and security agencies including the General Service Unit, Anti-stock theft unit, National Youth Service and National police service.

“We have deployed 67 special formed-up units in perceived hotspot areas. Each of the 12,380 polling stations in Nakuru, Uasin Gishu, Trans Nzoia, Kericho, Bomet and Narok will be secured,” said Maalim.

The government will not close down businesses or entertainment joints during elections. According to Maalim, businesses, bars and restaurants will remain open and will be secured.

Maalim noted a few isolated threatening leaflets that had been dropped in parts of Uasin Gishu County. Police have arrested and charged nine people in connection to the leaflets.

Each of them was granted a bond of Sh1million, awaiting trial, said Maalim.

At the same time, the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) in Nakuru county has assured Kenyans that they are ready for elections today (Tuesday).

Dr Joseph Mele, the Nakuru County Returning Officer said they have received all elections material including those of Nakuru men and Female GK Prisons.

“Nakuru has 1,540,856 registered voters and both manual and digital registers will be available in every polling station,” said Mele.

According to Mele, all presiding officers in the 11 constituencies within the county went for mapping in their respective polling stations, to ensure all systems are working.

Mele said there were concerns in Kiptoro area within Kuresoi South where heavy rainfall was reported.

“We were told that the roads are impassable but we have put up measures to ensure our officers reach their areas of designation,” said Mele.

He added that they have deployed generators to some polling stations that have no electricity.

James Omoro and Juliet Omelo, Daniel Chege, Olivia Odhiambo and Sharon Owino

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