Gunmen raid NASA presidential tallying centre, steal computers

NASA Presidential candidate Raila Odinga (left) and ANC Party leader Musalia Mudavadi at Bukhungu stadium in Kakamega on August 3, 2017. Photo by BENJAMIN SAKWA

Hooded gunmen staged a daring night raid on one of the NASA presidential tallying centres in Nairobi’s Westlands area, destroyed and carted away dozens of computers and other valuables.

The about 20 men were armed with rifles and pistols when they raided the centre near General Mathenge Drive. The centre is located in a private house and had been set up ready to tally election results from all 290-constituency centres.

Guards on duty at the premises said the gang raided there at about 8 pm Friday and it took them almost an hour to complete their mission.

The raiders broke down and ferried away surveillance cameras, desktop computers, computer servers, Ipads and laptops that were there.

NASA head of presidential secretariat Musalia Mudavadi branded the raid “NASA Gate” and said 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 assure our supporters not to panic. Let us vote on Tuesday because we have many other tallying centres,” said Mudavadi.

A guard who was on duty said he heard a knock on the main gate of the premises with those seeking to get in claiming they were police officers.

“I peeped through the hole and saw many cars which terrified me. I ran back to the guardroom to alert my colleagues. This forced them to jump over the gate before they broke the padlock allowing the about ten cars they had to get in,” said the guard.

He added that, therein they roughed up the guard and tied him in his sentry before they proceeded to the main tallying centre.

Inside the centre, they held staff, mostly young university and college students on internship hostage, forcing them to lie on the floor for hours then 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 NASA 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 civilians and wearing balaclavas and among them there were about three women.

The NASA leaders had arrived in Nairobi from Mombasa. Mudavadi and Siaya Senator James Orengo and head of the centre Willis Otieno moved to assure their base saying they have many other centres.

Orengo said the raid was staged by government machineries who have panicked. He said the raiders did not have a warrant to allow them stage it.

“This is a criminal activity being perpetuated by a falling regime. What Jubilee is trying to do is to cripple us. They cant stop us. We are ready,” he said.

 He said the raiders never made an inventory of the things they took.

Orengo said the raid was weird and that would not stop them. Orengo who is also the deputy NASA chief agent said two of their ICT advisers- a Canadian and an American- had been arrested from their houses in Westlands’ Rhapta Road and taken away.

“We don’t know where they are and we fear they could be deported by these people. They were picked up from their houses,” he said.

The news of the raid had been shrouded with doubts earlier on in the evening.

This was after some of those who were not aware the centre had been moved from Sifa Towers along Ring Road near Yaya Centre rushed there only to find nothing of the sort had happened. The centre had been moved to Westlands.