IEBC rubbishes statement by police over release of election technology personnel
The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) has rubbished a statement shared by the National Police Service (NPS) regarding the release of an employee of the Smartmatic technology firm arrested at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA), Nairobi on Thursday, July 21, 2022.
This comes after the police service, after blaming the electoral body for miscommunication, issued contradictory statements regarding what transpired during and after the release of the foreigner and his colleagues.
Among the issues that the electoral body clarified was the alleged release of the foreigner from lawful custody.
Press Release: Harassment of Personnel and Confiscation of Items to be used by the Commission During the 9th August 2022 General Electionhttps://t.co/MJtOJ10ISq#GE2022 pic.twitter.com/KFdyANrEhI— IEBC (@IEBCKenya) July 22, 2022
According to a press release by the IEBC, the foreigner was released on the condition that he appears before the OCS Anti-terrorism police unit on Tuesday, July 26.
This was contrary to NPS's statement which noted that the foreigner arrested had been released from lawful custody.
"Subsequent investigations have revealed that the stickers are bona fide property of the 1EBC and part of the election-related material. Based on the above finding, the suspect has been released from lawful custody and the stickers released to IEBC," NPS wrote.
The commission also pointed out that two other people who had been working for the commission were also arrested when they went to check on their colleague, contrary to the NPS statement that only one person was arrested.
"Other than the person who had been arrested at the airport, the security officers also arrested two other personnel who had been working for the Commission and had gone to check on their colleague. This brings the total number of arrested personnel to three,
"Whereas the impression created by the press release is that the personnel have been released, their release was conditional as they have to appear before the OCS AntiTerrorism Police Unit on 26th July 2022 which inevitably affects the performance of their duties," IEBC stated.
Further, the commission dismissed NPS's statement alleging that the stickers confiscated at the time of arrest were released.
According to the Electoral agency, the stickers were retained by the OCS Anti-Terrorism Police Unit.
IEBC protests arrest of personnel
The statement by NPS was released hours after IEBC protested the arrest and detention of the personnel the commission said were three in number.
"The brazen decision of the security authorities to arrest, detain and confine in a solitary hideout the three personnel without justification, is an exhibition of intimidation on hardworking persons who are only keen to deliver a robust technology infrastructure for conduct of a credible, secure and verifiable election," IEBC Chairperson Wafula Chebukati said in a statement on Thursday night.
IEBC said the commission has a legal contract with Smartmatic and its staff should be allowed to work in the country to ensure the election process is smooth technologically.
"The Commission has a valid legal contract executed between itself and Smartmatic International B.V. for the supply, delivery, installation, testing, commissioning, support, and maintenance of the Kenya Integrated Election Management System.
"The Commission is concerned about this unjustified intimidation, harassment, and blackmail whatsoever and demands the immediate release of the three employees of SmartmaticInternational B.V," Chebukati said.
Chebukati said the arrests could affect the commission's election preparedness.