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Report: Voters were paid to sell their IDs during August elections

A voter casts her vote during the 2022 General election voting at Uhuru Gardens primary school, Langata constituency, Nairobi.  [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

Some voters in Nyeri were paid up to Sh2,000 to sell their national identification (ID) cards or vote for particular candidates in the August elections, a report has revealed.

The research by local NGO, Independent Medico-Legal Unit (IMLU), shows buying of the ID cards happened on the day of voting and started as early as 6am. According to the report titled Frontlines of Democracy: Safeguarding Human Rights in Kenya’s 2022 Elections, most of those targeted by the scheme were youth.

In another shocking revelation, the report shows that while the elections were well managed, there were still pockets of violence, with 115 incidences reported in 41 counties.

Out of these, 21 constituted serious human rights violations. These incidents included five fatalities.

IMLU officials said investigations by the organisation’s Rehabilitation Department were narrowed down to 21 incidents involving serious human rights violations, five of which were fatalities, one in Laikipia, and two in Nairobi and Bungoma each.

Although the killings were not linked to police, IMLU Executive Director, Peter Kiama, faulted the National Police Service for their inaction when the violations were being carried out.

“Where the police either used disproportionate force that resulted in violations of human rights or refused to respond to an unfolding public order situation and in so doing condoned the violation of human rights,” said Mr Kiama.

For the period between May and June, IMLU recorded political players and gangs as leading perpetrators in election offences, accounting for 48.9 and 14.9 per cent respectively. Police officers were third with 6.4 per cent.

Nairobi County recorded the highest number of cases of human rights violations, followed by Kisumu and Bungoma counties. On voter bribery, the report shows buying off voters first occurred at the household level.

It explained that candidates for various positions or their agents would approach voters even before they could leave their houses to go to the polling stations.

Some voters reported they were waylaid by candidates or their agents on their way to or at the entrance of the polling centres and asked to give up their ID cards for cash.

The voters were offered money, airtime and other incentives.

In some instances, people were offered some cash as a downpayment, required to take a photo of the marked ballot paper proving they voted for a particular candidate, and send the image afterwards to agents of particular candidates for them to receive the balance of what had been agreed upon,” the report reads in part.

Other areas where voter bribery was reported were Kariobangi, Kariokor and Mukuru kwa Njenga in Nairobi County, where voters were given maize flour.

Voter bribery was also reported in Nakuru, Kakamega, Garissa and Bungoma counties.

The research was conducted over a period of eight months. IMLU received 2,333 reports through their election-monitoring hubs across the 41 counties and 1,200 reports through their toll-free line.