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Court orders state agency to open population census servers

By Paul Ogemba | July 3rd 2020

A State agency has been ordered to open its servers for scrutiny over claims of manipulating the 2019 population census results.

Justice Charles Kariuki ordered the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) to open the servers after leaders from three Northern counties complained that the numbers released of their population was not a true reflection of the people on the ground.

“KNBS should open and allow the petitioners to access and scrutinise its central servers, tablets and all other devices which were used to collect data during the 2019 Kenya Population and Housing Census,” ruled the judge.

Justice Kariuki directed the petitioners from Mandera, Garissa and Wajir to appoint three IT experts to represent each county to carry out the scrutiny under the supervision of the court’s deputy registrar and file a report within 30 days.

The petition against the census results was filed by political leaders from Mandera, Garissa and Wajir, arguing that population from the three counties was deliberately decreased to deny them a share of national resources.

Justice Kariuki ruled that there was clear variance of the figures quoted by the petitioners and the ones released by KNBS and that the only way to ascertain the truth is by scrutinising the servers.

He, however, declined to stop Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission from relying on the 2019 census to determine population quota for reviewing electoral boundaries, ruling that there is nothing to stop since the process of boundary delimitation has not begun.

The petitioners were governors Ali Roba (Mandera), Ali Korane (Garissa), Abdi Mohamud (Wajir), MPs Abdullahi Bashir, Yusuf Adan, Hassan Maalim, Ibrahim Abdi, Hassan Omar, Adan Haji, Adan Keynan, Ahmed Bashane, Rashid Kassim, Ahmed Kolosh and Ahmed Ibrahim.

They argued through their lawyers that there was a deliberate campaign to suppress the actual enumerated results from the northern counties and that it was not possible to have areas with higher household sizes and higher birth rates recording lower census results.

The leaders argued the demographic trends since the first census in 1969 showed an increase of population after every 10 years, which made the 2019 exercise suspicious as it showed a decline in population in the three counties.

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