Questions raised as police impound IEBC election material

By GEOFFREY MOSOKU                               

Nairobi, Kenya: Security concerns are being raised on election materials after Administration Police officers in Nairobi on Tuesday evening impounded thousands of bags belonging to the Independent Elections and Boundary Commission (IEBC) that were being rebranded from a private house.

The bags were part of a Sh80 million tender awarded to a private firm by the Independent Elections and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) for supply and delivery of election materials.

The director of the firm was unable to explain to security agents why he was transferring material from a government warehouse to a private residence, with inadequate security, to rebrand them with just 54 days to the General Election. The bags in question are issued to clerks recruited by the electoral body to carry election materials. The APs from Utawala police post were holding the suspect cache of more than 200,000 bags that were being offloaded from a lorry to a private residence under construction in the area.

The police officers from the nearby Utawala police post said they had noticed suspicious movements when the lorry had delivered the first batch and returned with another batch.

On inquiring what the lorry was carrying, it turned out to be the bags with the logo of IIEC, the predecessor of IEBC.

A Mr Omondi who arrived at the scene moments after the bags were impounded explained to the police that IEBC had awarded him a tender to re-brand 279,100 bags at a cost of Sh13.9 million. He gave the police the documents to show he had won the tender and an LPO to supply them but could not provide documents authorising the movement and re-branding of the bags.

According to the documents given to the police, Omondi’s company, Hopeland Advertising and Design Limited, was given the tender to supply various materials to IEBC; which include 36,000 polling station banners, 580 constituency Tallying Centre banners, 94 county tallying centre banners, two national tallying centre banners and the rebranding of the IEBC bags. The cost of the entire tender is quoted as Sh79,971,800.

However, police were not convinced with the documents and asked him to provide other letters allowing him to rebrand the bags since the tender letter and the LPO provided were not enough to prove legitimate ownership of the bags.

By Wednesday, the cops were still holding the vehicle at the scene and were yet to ascertain if the documents provided by the owner of the house were genuine.

According to Austin Otieno of Hopeland Limited, there was nothing sinister in the bags being transferred from Government warehouse in Industrial Area to the private residence.

“You can verify from the documents that were procedural in transferring those bags from the Government ware house to the area. We opted to use that property which is owned by Omondi since there is space,” Otieno who identified himself as an administrator of Hopeland told The Standard on phone.

In the backdrop of this latest development, IEBC chair Isaack Hassan had Wednesday assured President Kibaki that the everything was set for the March 4 polls.

The Head of State also assured that security would be given priority and the Government would mobilise officers from all State security agencies to ensure a secure and peaceful election. In this regard, a meeting will be held between the IEBC, the National Police Service and Provincial Administration to discuss security  development during the polls.

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Independent Elections and Boundary Commission election