Police destroyed all electronic items, demanded passwords from 3 foreigners~Chebukati Claims

The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission has said police officers destroyed key electronic items belonging to the 3 foreign nationals arrested on Thursday.

In a statement by the IEBC Chair Wafula Chebukati on Friday, the commission faulted the state saying the move will affect poll preparation.

“The National Police Service has, most importantly, co0nfiscated all electronic items including mobile phones, laptops and flash disks in the custody of the said personnel which electronic items contain important and sensitive information relating to the forthcoming elections as well as projects undertaken by them for other countries. The said personnel were compelled to give passwords to the confiscated phones and gadgets resulting in violations of rights of privacy.”

Chebukati has further said that the stickers obtained from a Venezuelan national who landed at JKIA on Thursday n have also been confisticated and retained by the OCS Anti-terrorism police unit.

The commission’s chairperson Wafula Chebukati said in a press statement on Thursday night, July 21 that the foreigners were arrested in unclear circumstances.

The arrests came hours after the IEBC earlier Thursday denied allegations that some election material had been confiscated at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) during shipment into the country outside a schedule known by the Government of Kenya.

Several hours later, however, the commission said it was disappointed about the arrests of three foreigners, who they termed key in the management of the August 9, 2022 General Election’s technological network.

“It is with extreme consternation that the commission has learnt of the arrest of three key personnel responsible for deployment and management of election technology infrastructure. The three personnel, who are employees of Smartmatic International BV, were arrested upon arrival at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport from Venezuela,” Chebukati said in his Thursday night statement.

“This is despite the Commission’s Secretary/CEO [Marjan Hussein] explaining to the security authorities that the three personnel were in the country to execute a lawful contract relating to the deployment of technology in elections.

“The commission has a valid legal contract executed between itself and Smartmatic International BV for the supply, delivery, installation, testing, commissioning, support and maintenance of the Kenya Integrated Election Management System (KIEMS).”

The IEBC chairperson accused unnamed persons of intimidating the commission.

“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,” said Chebukati.

The IEBC boss said the contractees’ arrests could jeopardise preparations of the upcoming polls.

“The commission wishes to inform the public that the arrest and continued holding of the personnel has the inevitable effect of hampering the deployment of technology in the forthcoming general election. Technology plays a central role in elections and the commission wonders what the intention behind the holding of the technical personnel is meant to achieve.”

Chebukati added: “The commission demands the immediate release of the three employees of Smartmatic International BV.”

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