By Kipkemoi Arap Kirui
My name is Kipkemoi arap Kirui, 40 years on January 24th. I am a Clerk Assistant at the National Assembly working at the Table Office. I am a lawyer.
This is my statement of activities that took place at the Electoral Commission of Kenya’s National Election Centre at the Kenyatta International Conference, Nairobi in December 2007 during the nomination and voting exercise.
I am writing this statement on January 2, 2008 in hiding. I am not able to lay my hands on a number of documents which would provide further evidence of the irregularities that I witnessed during the vote tallying exercise.
Sometimes late in November 2007, after I proceeded on my annual leave, I received telephone and later written instructions from Principal Clerk, Mrs. Consolata Munga, on behalf of the Clerk of the National Assembly assigning me duties at the Electoral Commission of Kenya to assist in the General Elections Nomination Exercise and later at the National Tallying Centre after the voting was concluded.
The nomination exercise was orderly. At least at the ECK nominations processing centre. I was in charge of Coast and Nairobi. Though I was apprehensive about Lang’ata and Kamukunji constituencies, the exercise went on smoothly.
On December 19, 2007 I got another phone call from Mr. Mutungi a colleague from the National Assembly Hansard Department asking me to report at the KICC. He told me that I had been assigned the duties of a Team Leader of Team II (Night Duty). I was at my home in Western Kenya. I took a bus the next day for Nairobi. I arrived the same evening and reported at the KICC National Tallying Centre. Work had not started. So I proceeded to my residence to rest. I reported to work early on December 21st and found a slow briefing process going on. The officers in charge of staff were a Mr. Simon Njoroge Inegene (a nice gentleman I later learned was a Human Resource Officer with the ECK, and effectively in charge of staff at the venue temporarily hired by ECK for the election exercise), and others were Mr. Njogu, Mr. Laichena, Mr. Koech and Mr. Chepsat who I never got to interact with so much except in their course of issuing instructions. They took us through some briefing.
The staff at the National Tallying Centre were largely school leavers and students in colleges in town. They were handpicked by officials from ECK. The briefing process was haphazard and wanting in many ways. Recruitment of staff continued until the eve of the Election Day.
Duties: I was made the Deputy Team Leader of Team II (Night) under a Mr. Chris Musyoka. Things later changed and a Mr. Malonza was posted. He never stayed long and a Mr. Njuguna was posted as Team Leader. At one time on the night of 28th Mr. Njuguna admitted to the team that he did not understand what he was expected to do. He asked that I assist. I was already apprehensive because around this time, a number of my colleagues who were in other teams were smelling mischief. We went round whispering. It was tense. We were expected to make calls to Returning Officers (ROs) to start receiving preliminary results where vote counting had been concluded.
For the Presidential Elections, the ROs must deliver physical copies of the statutory declarations. The ROs are not empowered to vary results declared at the tallying level. Most of the ROs had been allocated satellite phones, mobile phones and adequate airtime for the exercise. They also had Fax machines. Each Team at the KICC also had five telephone/fax lines. The process was supposed to be smooth. We were supposed to have received the preliminary results by midnight.
I was in charge of Galole, Bura, Lamu West, Lamu East, Taveta, Wundanyi, Mwatate, Voi, Dujis, Lagdera, Fafi, Ijara, Wajir North, Wajir South, Wajir West, Wajir East, Mandera West, Mandera East, Moyale, North Horr, Saku and Laisamis constituencies as a Deputy Team Leader (Night).
On the night of the 28th we sat for long hours without any call from the Returning Officers. We attempted to call them one by one. There were 21 constituencies under my charge. There was no response until about five in the morning when some who sounded sleepy and uncooperative refused to give any information saying they had nothing to give. They would then hang up. Some rendered themselves completely unreachable. I left work at 7.00 am. Concerned.
I left the Hall to find strong General Service Unit (GSU) police officers within the building on every floor and outside the building arranged a metre a part round City Hall Way, Parliament Road, Harambee Avenue and Taifa Road. They had sophisticated weapons, namely, powerful machine guns, grenades and teargas canisters. [It was a scene of tension building up typical of what I saw in the famous movies ‘Hotel Rwanda and ‘100 Days’.
I must also indicate here that I had accompanied officials of the KNCHR and Kenyan Members of Parliament to Rwanda in 2004 on what I regarded as a ‘pilgrimage to conscience’. I still went back to Rwanda in 2006. I decided to commit myself to the course of human rights and justice]. I went to sleep. I did not have a wink. I watched the news coming in in consternation. The results were coming in too slowly.
I took some light lunch and proceeded to work at 5.00 pm. I never used my car. Matatus were hard to come by. So I left early. I alighted at the Times Tower bus stage and walked up the few metres to KICC Harambee Avenue gate. It was barricaded by the GSU. I was asked to go round to the City Hall Way gate. It took me around twenty minutes to get through the GSU stops and questioning (This would ordinarily take a minute). I got to the office at 7.15pm.
December 29th. It was tense. The day staff had left in a huff. Never handed over to me. They handed over to my new Team Leader. Constituencies received: Lamu East, Lamu West, Wundanyi and Dujis. The statutory documents Forms 16A, 17 and 17A did not accompany them. I refused to deal with them. For most of the night, we kept calling the ROs. The Ijara, Galole, Wundanyi and Dujis statutory documents were never received at all.
Why? The Day Team Leaders responsible did not sign for receiving them. They left it to us. Form 16As had not arrived. There was word going round that we do not accept results without Form 16A because my colleagues doubted the incoming data. Work stopped until around midnight when one sleepy looking guy was ushered in. He was from Moyale. He started with a quick doze. He did not have his Forms 16A, 17 and 17A. I asked him to rest while I consulted. I talked to a Mr. Chepsat who advised that I do not receive the results. I did not. Hours later Chairman Kivuitu would be going public with Moyale results.
After Moyale, we received Saku and Laisamis. No Forms 16A, 17 and 17A again. I refused to receive them. My Team Leader went ahead to receive them nonetheless. ECK Chairman went ahead to announce them. The figures were in a number of instances overstated. I was perturbed. There is no reason why the ROs did not get back to us with the statutory documents three days after the vote tallying at the constituency.
My colleagues informed me of reduction and suppression of results in some constituencies. This is when I raised the alarm. I hit the roof. I pulled my Team Leader Mr. Njuguna aside and I started by saying “My brother, this is an important national exercise. I am concerned that we are not following the law and we are letting down Kenyans …” He told me that he was recommending to his bosses that I be removed because I was proving difficult. He actually went ahead to report me to a Mr. Koech who dismissed him and asked him to cooperate and work with me. He went back to the work station. I came back to find him addressing the team members. I informed them that I regarded the work we were doing as an important national exercise and it demanded patriotism and a non partisan approach to issues. I told him that I demanded his respect and cooperation. He said I should leave if I so wished. I left in a huff…
I feared for my life. I never took the matter up with ECK Commissioners.