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Safaricom Ltd last night fought back claims by the National Super Alliance (NASA) that the mobile service provider was complicit in a scheme to rig the August 8 elections.
NASA leader Raila Odinga on Tuesday said Safaricom was contracted by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) to transmit election results from the Kenya Integrated Electoral Management Systems (KIEMS) kits at the polling stations to the IEBC servers, but alleged Safaricom’s system never relayed results to IEBC’s public web portal.
The data, Raila said, was to be conveyed via Virtual Private Network (VPN) in order to ensure that there was no tampering with the results before they reached the servers.
“It has come to our knowledge that one of these VPNs terminated at a cloud server registered in Spain but operated from France under the control of OT-Morpho. Both VPNs were fully paid for by the IEBC. However, the VPN from Safaricom terminating locally was never set up” Raila claimed.
“Consequently, results from the polling station KIEMS kits left the country but never found their way back to IEBC. None of the kits under Safaricom’s network ever got their results onto the IEBC’s public web portal.
“One thing Jubilee and IEBC refuse to disclose and address even as they claim to be making changes to the electoral system is the role the local telecommunication firms, particularly Safaricom Kenya, played, in collaboration with Safran in manipulating the August elections in favour of Jubilee and Uhuru Kenyatta,” Raila alleged.
But Raila did not provide any evidence of his claims.
Last night, Safaricom CEO Bob Collymore denied the NASA allegations as he clarified the firm’s roles in the last General Election.
“Contrary to what is alleged in the NASA statement, results from the KIEMS kits from Safaricom zones were transmitted and are on the IEBC web portal,” said Mr Collymore.
He explained that Safaricom Ltd was to provide a dedicated secure tunnel to transmit the encrypted data from the KIEMS kits to the IEBC server, also known as a Virtual Private Network or VPN.
The firm was also meant to provide technical support to IEBC before, during and after election day, including a dedicated project manager.
In addition, Safaricom was to provide a record of transmission from all the SIM cards provided to IEBC under the contract for purposes of the General Election.
On how transmission was conducted, Collymore explained the country was divided into zones allocated to Safaricom, Telkom Kenya and Airtel Kenya, collectively known as the Mobile Network Operators (MNOs).
All the KIEMS kits had two SIM cards, with one MNO as a primary provider and the other MNO as a secondary one, he said.
Each of the MNOs established a VPN to transmit results from areas where they were either a primary or secondary provider.
“The role of the MNOs was therefore merely to transmit the results from the KIEMS kits to the IEBC servers. In accordance with the contract with IEBC, all the mobile operators connected their VPNs and transmitted the data to the IEBC cloud servers. It was IEBC’s responsibility to transmit results from its servers to the tallying centres and this was publicly available information,” Collymore said.
“Further, it is factually incorrect and unsupported by any evidence whatsoever that Safaricom was informed that some 100 KIEMS kits, as alleged, were stolen from IEBC.
“As such, there was nothing required for Safaricom to report and in any event, if any KIEMS kits were stolen, it was the responsibility of IEBC to make such a report and further notify the MNOs to deactivate the SIMs. Safaricom did not receive such a report from IEBC,” he said.
“Safaricom is deeply concerned that the NASA statement has recklessly gone ahead to mention innocent Safaricom staff members, needlessly endangering them and their families. This action is callous and unnecessary,” Collymore said.
Raila had claimed that NASA was in possession of the names of the six individuals at Safaricom alleged to have had knowledge of the conspiracy. He had added they had instructed NASA lawyers to initiate private prosecution of the officials under the Cyber Crimes Act.
“Safaricom would like to state that we discharged our contractual obligations strictly in accordance with our contract and the law. Safaricom is ready to face any investigations and/or private prosecutions, brought by any party, on this matter,” Collymore said.
Raila had threatened to write to the United Kingdom’s Serious Fraud Office Unit (SFO) to take action against Vodafone, a key stakeholder of Safaricom, over the electoral fraud.
The Opposition leader also dared Saffran Morpho, the French firm whose gadgets were used for biometric identification and transmission of results, to take him to court.
He claimed that he had enough evidence to prove his allegations of their involvement in what he termed electoral fraud.
But the French digital security company has insisted its systems weren’t tampered with to rig the election outcome.
The company explained an internal audit of its equipment conducted after the Supreme Court invalidated the August 8 presidential election found no foul play.
Raila alleged that Jubilee was determined to take Kenyans through another charade of elections whose result would be the same as the nullified one.
He said IEBC was yet to make any changes and adequately address the issues they (NASA) had raised as “irreducible minimum”, among them that Saffran Morpho should not supply the electoral technology for the repeat poll.
Raila also demanded that Al-Ghurair, the Dubai-based printing firm, should not print the ballot papers for the repeat poll. He questioned their silence over the forms that had no security features.
The NASA presidential candidate claimed that there still existed a conspiracy to rig the election.
He alleged that the electoral commission had no intention of reforming itself into a credible institution and it was too beholden to Jubilee to begin the process.
He argued that the commission, led by chairman Wafula Chebukati, could not begin the process of ensuring an honest election as long as those responsible for the “irregularities and illegalities” were still lurking in its corridors.
“IEBC has refused to dismiss or suspend them. There are layers and webs of deception and deceit that we must unravel to reclaim our country. That is why we are beginning a peaceful campaign to force them out by public pressure so that the process of a fair election can at last begin,” said Raila.