IEBC staff grilled, in court over poll flaws

Police keeping watch at the national tallying centre, Bomas of Kenya, Nairobi. August 14, 2022. [David Gichuru, Standard]

Police are still grilling a number of the electoral body officials arrested in connection with suspected irregularities in the August 9 polls.

This is going on even as the Independent and Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) already sent four of its officers in Homa Bay County packing over suspicions that they were planning to rig the polls. When announcing the presidential election result, IEBC chair Wafula Chebukati pointed out that a number of the commission’s staff had been arrested for no reason.

“We have staff who have been arbitrarily arrested for no reason and I don’t know where they are at the moment,” he said.

In Homa Bay where the four officers’ services were terminated, police were still recording statements and called on residents who caught the four in a house within the Ndhiwa to record statements and shed more light on the incident. They were implicated in an alleged attempt to collude with two candidates who were eyeing an MP and an MCA seats in Ndhiwa.

County Returning Officer Fredrick Apopa had dismissed the officials who were arrested after they reportedly held a secret meeting with two candidates at a home in Ndhiwa.

“We are still hoping the police will charge them in court. They are still probing them,” Apopa said yesterday.

Apopa said the four were a presiding officer of a polling station in Kanyadoto Ward, two deputy presiding officers of two polling stations in Kanyadoto Ward, and a clerk of a polling station in Kwabwai Ward. And at the Coast, six electoral body officials have either been arrested or charged in connection to election malpractices including refusing to count the votes.

On Wednesday, detectives were grilling two IEBC officials after a sealed ballot box was found at a tallying centre in the Bura sub-country. The Tana North Police Commander Ali Ndiema said they were also looking for Bura Constituency Returning Officer, Mr Abdulswalleh Jamanda for questioning. Mr Ndiema said the sealed ballot box containing ballot papers belonging to the governor candidates was found at the Bura IEBC office instead of Bura County tallying centre.

Mr Jamanda could not be reached as he was said to be in Nairobi, but the County Returning officer Mr Yonah Ogalo confirmed the suspects were being interrogated by the police. Mr Ogalo said he had also asked the police to keep the box in their custody until the investigation is over. “If the IEBC officers were involved in the racket, let them face the law,” he said.

Tana River County UDA candidate Hussein Dado’s running mate Ibrahim Sane said all senior IEBC officials should be grilled about the incident.

“We told the IEBC earlier that the whole exercise was marred by irregularities. I am calling for cancellation of the swearing-in of Dhadho Godhana who won the seat,” Sane said.

Meanwhile, four IEBC officials in Mombasa and Kilifi were also charged last Wednesday with electoral malpractices and refusal to count votes. The four were charged at the Shanzu Law Courts with the issuance of two extra voting ballot papers to one voter, failure to report the matter to security officials, and refusal to count votes. The four include a Presiding Officer, Deputy Presiding Officer, and polling clerk.

 [Joackim Bwana, Hassan Barisa and James Omoro]