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Questions over daring raid at NASA offices

By Cyrus Ombati | August 6th 2017 at 12:00:00 GMT +0300

NASA  leaders Musalia Mudavadi and James Orengo at the opposition tallying centre

One of the National Super Alliance (NASA) command centres was raided on Friday night in what the Opposition believes was a state operation.

The raid came as the government deported four foreign experts associated with NASA.

On Saturday, Siaya Senator James Orengo alleged that police officers led by a chief inspector staged the raid at the NASA presidential tallying centre in Nairobi’s Westlands in which they destroyed equipment and carried away computers. During a rally at Uhuru Park, Nairobi yesterday, Orengo named five police officers who he said were among the 15 who allegedly raided the tallying centre.

The officers whose names he read in public included a chief inspector, a sergeant and three corporals whose details he said were provided by police sources. Orengo also gave the registration details of a white car he said was used by the raiders.

Police quickly denied any involvement in the raid at the NASA centre.

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“These allegations are untrue. We further wish to state that no report of a burglary has been made at any police station,” said Assistant Inspector General George Kinoti.

But Orengo said they had reported the matter to Parklands Police Station.

The Raila Odinga-led Opposition said two IT experts, an American and a Canadian, who were helping NASA in setting up the tallying centre, were picked from their apartment in Westlands and taken into custody while two Ghanaians, who were set to join them were stopped at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport and sent back home.

The American has been identified as John Aristotle Philip while NASA gave one name of the Canadian as Andrea. The Ghanaians were not identified.

Moments after NASA spoke about the raid and the deportation of experts, the American embassy in Nairobi confirmed that indeed Philip had since departed the country.

“We are in touch with the Kenyan government and with one American and one Canadian detained on August 4. They are safe and departing Kenya,” said the US embassy in a statement.

Guards at the premises said about 20 hooded gunmen armed with rifles and pistols attacked the premises near General Mathenge Drive, Nairobi, and carted away dozens of computers and other valuables.

The centre is located in a private house and had been set up ready to tally election results from all the 290 constituencies.

The guards said the gang raided at 8pm and took almost an hour to complete their mission. They broke down and carried away surveillance cameras, desktop computers, computer servers, iPads and laptops.

Jumped over the gate

A guard told the Sunday Standard that he heard a knock on the main gate of the premises and seeking entrance said they were police officers.

“I peeped through the hole and saw many cars and I was terrified. I ran back to the guardroom to alert my colleagues. The attackers jumped over the gate and broke the padlock, allowing more than 10 cars to drive in,” said the guard who requested not to be named.

He said the gang roughed him up and tied him before they proceeded to the main room where the gadgets were.

Inside the house, they held staff hostage, mostly young university and college students on internship, forcing them to lie on the floor for hours as they took away all their equipment. They also confiscated their mobile phones, notebooks and work identity cards. The raiders also took details of each of the staff, including their full names, areas of residence, place of birth and where they went to school, witnesses said. The guard said the raiders were in civilian and wearing balaclavas and among them were three women.

“They were calling for more cars to carry away the machines they had dismantled because the cars they came with were full,” said the guard.

The NASA leaders had arrived to Nairobi from a vote hunting mission in Mombasa when the raid was ongoing.

NASA head of presidential secretariat Musalia Mudavadi branded the raid “NASA Gate”, saying they had installed more than 200 laptops and computers, which were all taken away.

“This is part of efforts by a panicking government to derail us. We have many other centres and I want to urge our supporters not to panic. Let us vote on Tuesday,” said Mudavadi.

Orengo said the officers did not have a warrant to search the premises. “This is a criminal activity being perpetuated by a falling regime. What Jubilee is trying to do is to cripple us. They can’t stop us. We are ready,” he said.

nasa Siaya Senator James Orengo parallel tallying centre
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