Marjan grilled on loss of 952 laptops before polls

IEBC CEO Marjan Hussein Marjan. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission CEO Marjan Hussein Marjan had a difficult task explaining how 952 electronic voter identification laptops and 125 biometric voter registration (BVR) devices were lost months to the August 2022 elections.

Mr Marjan appeared before the National Assembly Public Accounts Committee chaired by Nominated MP John Mbadi where he narrated how the laptops were stolen from the IEBC warehouse in Kisumu County.

The CEO told the committee that unknown individuals entered the commission’s warehouse in November 2020 and stole the laptops. The officer in charge of the equipment was later dismissed.

“There is a likelihood of existing cartels within the commission’s ICT offices and supply chain management offices colluding and stealing ICT-related items for their benefit. There is a consistent trend in previous cases reported from the regional and county offices,” said Marjan.

The CEO revealed that 125 BVR kits out of 11,075 were stolen across the country before the elections. The commission, he added, has reported the thefts to the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI).

He also told the MPs that the commission was working with the DCI to expedite investigations into a former supply chain management assistant in Kisumu who was dismissed after failing to respond to a show-cause letter.

“There is need for the commission to audit and inspect all IEBC warehouses starting from the national, regional and county warehouses to ascertain the commission’s information, communication technology-related assets,” said Marjan.

Mr Mbadi wondered if the thefts were part of a scheme to rig the election in a region considered the stronghold of Azimio presidential candidate Raila Odinga. The MP, who is also the ODM national chairman, asked Marjan to establish if the commission was populated with rogue staff bent on stealing its resources “since it required a lorry to steal the laptops at the Kisumu warehouse if it was done in one day.”