Crucial files lost in ECK drama
Story by GITONGA MARETE
12. March 2008
Mystery surrounds the disappearance of three files containing
vital information on the December 27 General Election.
The files went missing on Monday when a group of activists stormed
into an Electoral Commission of Kenya meeting in Kilifi.
On Tuesday, it emerged that files went missing when the group
confronted ECK chairman Samuel Kivuitu and other commissioners at
the Sun ‘N’ Sand Beach Resort.
The activists were demanding that the commissioners resign to pave
way for investigations into claims of election irregularities.
However, Mr Kivuitu has said his team would not step down before
presenting its side of the story to an independent review
committee set to start its work by Saturday.
It is believed that the missing files contain crucial information
about the tallying of the presidential votes in some provinces.
Their contents include Mr Kivuitu’s comments about his
commission’s preparedness to conduct the elections.
Police spent the better part of Monday evening searching for the
documents in the hall in which the activists were also meeting at
And Tuesday, Justice and Constitutional Affairs minister Martha
Karua asked civil society activists to steer clear of the
“It was unjustifiable for members of the civil society to storm
the Electoral Commission meeting the way they did,” she said in a
She said some of those who stormed the ECK meeting had been
parliamentary candidates in the December elections while others
were “crusaders for certain political parties”.
The minister urged the public and activists to give the
Independent Review Committee a chance to carry out its duties.
The team is this week expected to start investigating allegations
of irregularities during last year’s elections and give
recommendations on how to avoid such pitfalls in future.
“It is true that the commission could be having its own problems,
but it has continued to discharge its duties in a responsible
manner and the result is the 204 members of Parliament,” she said.
On Tuesday, attempts to search the activists’ rooms were thwarted
when the group denied the officers access, demanding search
“The police demanded they search our rooms, but we declined
because we know they are crafty,” said Mr Jeff Birundi of Name and
Shame Corruption Networks Campaign.
Meanwhile, seven activists from Mombasa were arrested and about 40
others dispersed when they tried to present a memorandum to Mr
The four men and three women who included Muslims for Human Rights
coordinator Hussein Khalid and Youth Agenda leader Evans Gachie,
were arrested when they defied police orders to disperse.
They waved placards denouncing ECK commissioners and demanding
that the commission be disbanded for allegedly failing Kenyans
during last year’s General Election whose results were marred by
allegations of irregularities.
Later, Mr Jacob Muoga, secretary-general of the Coast Civil
Society Congress, protested against the arrests. In a statement,
he said the activists had a constitutional right to express their
After the Monday incident, Kilifi OCPD Nehemiah Langat confirmed
that some files containing vital information had gone missing. “We
are searching for the ECK files that we understand the commission
has lost,” he told Nation.
He did not, however, disclose the type of information contained in
As the search went on, Ms Ann Njogu, the executive director of the
Centre for Rights’ Education and Awareness said: “If indeed the
commissioners were in possession of the files, how did they get
access to them yet the chairman is on record that they needed a
court order to access the documents? When did they obtain the
However, Attorney-General Amos Wako in January said that a court
order was not necessary to peruse the documents.
But according to Ms Njogu, the commissioners were on a mission to
frustrate the efforts of the Independent Review Committee that was
scheduled to begin its investigations into the disputed
presidential election results on Saturday.
Ms Njogu vied for the Kamukunji parliamentary seat, but results
for the elections were nullified over alleged irregularities. The
matter is pending in court.