William Ruto may not have been validly elected as Kenya’s fifth president, because, according to court petitions filed in Nairobi, technology was used to rig out his closest competitor Raila Odinga.
Odinga and his running mate Martha Karua, an experienced attorney, claim that the presidential vote was stolen five months before election day with 19 foreigners and two Kenyans having unauthorized access to the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) IT voting system.
“There was an elaborate and fraudulent premeditated scheme to interfere with and undermine and defeat the integrity, credibility and security of the presidential election,” the affidavit reads.
‘IEBC was actively involved in rigging’
Karua claims that digital footprints of IEBC chairman Wafula Chebukati could be seen in the voter verification system as late as Aug. 15 after the declaration of the president-elect. “Chebukati was personally continuously deleting and uploading different result declaration forms.”
There was chaos at the national tallying center in Nairobi on Aug. 13 after a suspicious laptop was discovered by Odinga’s agents. Karua says the laptop was at the epicenter of coordinated election rigging as it was connected to an external network where presidential vote verification forms were being stored temporarily, downloaded and then re-uploaded to the official IEBC portal. The device is alleged to be owned by Koech Geoffrey Kipngosos, a Ruto agent.
A separate filing by long-time anti-corruption activist John Githongo who was an observer in the polls claims in a 22-page affidavit that a team of 56 hackers orchestrated the manipulation of presidential results.
According to Githongo, the supervisors of the rigging plan included tech guru and Ruto’s chief of staff Davis Chirchir and digital strategist Dennis Itumbi. “After receiving the said data, they would edit the said form 34As according to the instructions given to them by their leaders and thereafter upload the said edited form 34A’s to the IEBC portal,” he alleges.
Partisan politics have bred mistrust in tech
Despite Kenya being regarded a model innovation hub in Africa, it still doesn’t trust technology to run its general elections. Ahead of the announcement of the presidential results, there were claims that an algorithm had been inserted into the voter verification system to manipulate results and that portals of media houses that were transmitting live presidential election results were hacked.
In 2017, Odinga claimed hackers stole his votes, and the supreme court went ahead to nullify the presidential results. IEBC’s ICT director at the time Chris Msando disappeared in unclear circumstances and was later found dead. Odinga alleged that Msando was murdered for refusing to surrender a password that was used to rig him out.