Supreme Court: Julie Soweto's Carmago claim hot air and a wild-goose chase

Lawyer Julie Soweto. [David Gichuru, Standard]

Julie Soweto’s submission that Venezuelan Jose Carmago fixed the August 9 presidential poll in favour of President-elect William Ruto by staging Forms 34A in the IEBC portal was sensational, this is according to the Supreme Court.

Rendering the Supreme Court’s decision midday Monday, Chief Justice Martha Koome said Soweto’s 'staging' submission, including claims that Forms 34A in the Gacharaigu polling station were staged and altered, turned out to be no more than hot air and a wild goose chase.

CJ Koome ruled that no evidence was adduced to support the claim that Carmago, one of the three Venezuelans arrested by Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) detectives at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) with election materials, accessed IEBC’s RTS systems and interfered with the results.

The Chief Justice ruled that Soweto failed to demonstrate poll interference through her submission that 10,000 form 34As had the same serial numbers and were sent from the same IP address. CJ Koome said the Court was satisfied by IEBC’s admission and explanation that the errors originated from the serialization of the kits.

“The Kiems kit which bore the same serial number with another was admitted by IEBC as an inadvertent manufacturer’s error. We are also satisfied that the kits had other identifying features that were markedly different, including the time stamps and polling code, and therefore nothing turns on this anomaly,” ruled Koome.

She added, “To the question of whether there was a difference between Forms 34As uploaded on the IEBC public portal and those received at the national tallying centre, and those issued to the candidate agents at the polling station, we have found none.”

CJ Koome went on to warn lawyers against filing false testimonies, citing affidavits by former anti-corruption boss John Githongo of logs of alleged breaches on IEBC's servers, as possibly containing falsehoods.

"The contents of the affidavit of John Mark Githongo which may contain forgeries are not admissible and do not meet the evidentiary threshold," said Koome. 

In a demo Friday, September 2, the last day of the presidential petition, Soweto took the Supreme Court’s seven-judge bench through some of the forms on the public portal, as she sought to identify what she described as interference with the results in favour of Ruto.

“It was not a coincidence that the electronic voting system failed only in Raila’s strongholds as well as the postponed elections. This resulted to voter suppression and discouraged his supporters from voting,” said Soweto.

Soweto argued that there was deliberate mischief in altering the forms, especially in Raila Odinga’s strongholds, by the foreigners contracted to run the electronic voter identification system.

Rejecting defence counsel's assertions that PDF forms cannot be edited, Soweto said Carmago was responsible for hacking and tampering with the forms on the public portal.

“We were told that the foreigners left, we were told that they didn’t access the server, then why is the name Jose Camargo appearing on a form on IEBC portal?... How can the same KIEMS kit transmit from two different locations; Mt. Elgon and Nyeri?… Because of time I cannot demonstrate the thousands of forms we have identified with the same issue,” submitted Soweto.

In a rejoinder, however, IEBC lawyer Mahat Somane said the forms had been overlayed when a presiding officer took the picture of the forms on an envelope bearing Carmago’s name.

“What Julie Soweto displayed in court with the name Jose Carmago was an overlay of Form 34A and not the original form. The document bearing the name of Jose Carmago is from the QR voters’ registers distributed to all polling stations,” said Somane.