Stop misinformation on Huduma Namba, State tells DP Ruto allies

Interior PS Karanja Kibicho announced plans to roll out another round of Huduma Namba registration in December. [File, Standard]

The government has dismissed as misinformation claims by Deputy President William Ruto’s allies of a plot to rig the 2022 General Election using the Huduma Namba.

Interior ministry through principal administrative secretary Moffat Kangi urged Kenyans to be wary of misinformation, disinformation, and conspiracy theories propagated about Huduma Namba or National Integrated Identity Management System (NIIMS).

“The database logistics and the software for NIIMS are 100 per cent Kenyan government-funded, designed, developed, and solely managed by Kenyans. No single component of the implementation process is handled by foreigners,” Kangi said.

“Over 90 per cent of the datasets collected from the 37 million Kenyans during the mass registration  exercise  have  been  cleaned  up  and  matched,  with  mass  production of Huduma cards set to begin by the end of this year.”

Kangi also said due to the sensitivity and criticality of the data, the ministry will print and issue the cards.

He said President Uhuru Kenyatta gets regular updates on all matters concerning the NIIMS  by the  Cabinet  Secretaries  Technical Committee for the implementation of the system.

Interior Principal Secretary Karanja Kibicho recently said the government will roll out another round of Huduma Namba registration in December and sought to reassure the public that their data is safe.

“Everybody will have an opportunity, through mass registration session two or walking to the registrar of persons in future if they miss out because this will be a continuous process,” he said.

Kangi sai a case filed at the High Court, challenging the rollout of the new data regime, slowed the process but that the Interior ministry is doing everything within its powers to complete it as soon as possible.

“The court directed that the government roll out the system on condition that an appropriate and comprehensive regulatory framework on the implementation of NIIMS, that is compliant with the applicable constitutional requirements, is first enacted,” Kangi said.

As part of the process to comply with the court order, the Interior and ICT ministries have drafted The Data Protection (Civil Registration)   Regulations,   2020   and   The   Registration of   Persons   (National Integrated Identity Management System) Regulations, 2020, which will be operationalised after public participation.

“A pre-publication scrutiny of the two statutory instruments has been held with the Parliamentary Committee on Delegated Legislation preparatory to their enactment into laws,” Kangi said.

Speaking at a Maasai cultural event presided over by the DP on Thursday, a section of MPs said they no longer trusted the Huduma Namba.

They alleged it is being managed by a foreign firm retained through the National Intelligence Service (NIS) to manipulate the poll outcome to Dr Ruto’s disadvantage.

“We gather they have brought in foreigners to help them steal our money and rig the elections,” Nakuru Senator Susana Kihika claimed.

Kikuyu MP Kimani Ichung’wa made similar claims.

According to Kangi, over the years, Kenya’s population databases have been existing in paper-based records and silos, a challenge that has had detrimental impacts on service delivery and left the citizens’ personal information vulnerable to the emerging security threats.

“The country’s identity systems have been infiltrated and abused by criminals, some posing as Kenyans or using Kenyan documents to commit a crime, fraud, and massive forgery.”

It is against this backdrop that the government conceptualised the NIIMS, a modern integrated database that would capture the biometric data and other information of all Kenyans and foreign nationals living in the country.

This is in line with the global best practices in the context of identity management and the pursuit of Target 9 of SDG 16.

NIIMS, which will be the first of its kind in our history, will be the authentic “single source of truth” on a person’s identity and guide national planning processes, facilitate access to government services, and address such crimes as impersonation, identity theft, fraud, and duplication in registration.

Following the mass registration exercise for Huduma Namba that was concluded on May 25, 2019, and June 20, 2019, in the country and the diaspora respectively, the government is on course to operationalize the centralized biometric identity system, said Kangi.