19 September 2017

Kenya: Why IEBC Boss Chebukati Wants Three ICT Officers Out

Photo: Evans Habil/Daily Nation
IEBC chairman Wafula Chebukati addresses journalists at Anniversary Towers, Nairobi, on September 1, 2017.

Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) chairman Wafula Chebukati wants three officers in the ICT directorate suspended in what he described as necessary action to restore waning public confidence in the commission's ability to prepare and deliver a credible repeat presidential poll.

In a leaked internal memo on Tuesday, Mr Chebukati directed the chief executive Ezra Chiloba to suspend ICT director James Muhati, ICT coordinator Paul Mugo and ICT officer Boniface Wamae as the turf wars between the commission and secretariat arising from the nullification of the August 8 presidential election went a notch higher.

INTERFERENCE

The trio managed the commission's Secure File Transfer Protocol (SFTP) platform in the General Election and the chairman says they fell short in assisting the commission to successfully discharge its collegial and constitutional mandate.

Further, Mr Chebukati notes that the officers acquired additional rights to delete files from the commission's servers and other escalated privileges to the FTP server under the chairperson/national returning officer account.

"The ICT security framework and security measures deployed in the General Election failed to eliminate the risk of external interference as users with foreign IP address could log onto the commission's system and perform functions before, during and after the elections," Mr Chebukati said.

ELECTORAL FLAWS

The Nation learnt that the decision to suspend the trio was arrived at after an attempt by the chairman to lobby the commissioners to suspend Mr Chiloba failed on Monday.

The chairman had summoned the commission for a meeting that was to deliberate Mr Chiloba's responses to the memo from the chairman, which blamed the chief executive for the systemic flaws in the August 8 General Election.

And even though the commissioners deliberated on the matter for the better part of Monday, there was no consensus on how to deal with Mr Chiloba who appears to enjoy protection from "forces within the government".

PETITION

Mr Chebukati is said to have been unhappy with Mr Chiloba's responses, pointing out they raised more questions than answers and urged the commissioners to back his bid to suspend Mr Chiloba, pending investigations.

However, there was no consensus and the matter was put on the vote, upon which Mr Chebukati lost.

The new memo popped up on the day Mr Chebukati failed to meet a group of church leaders who had been scheduled to deliver to him a petition that sought to plead with him to take necessary measures to identify and isolate those who were responsible for the mess that led to the nullification of the presidential election.

USER RIGHTS

Led by Bishop Aggrey Mukilima of the Friends Church, the clerics demanded that the IEBC takes steps to urgently agree with stakeholders on the way forward in line with the Supreme Court ruling.

In yet another memo, Mr Chebukati accuses the ICT officers of conferring on themselves super user rights on the commission's server in respect of the presidential election and demands an explanation from Mr Chiloba the scope of the user rights privileges the officers exercised in his name, whether these were delegated powers or assigned to any other person.

"You have not responded as to why a server that was meant for day to day operations by staff was used for official purpose of transmitting forms 34Bs," Mr Chebukati tells Mr Chiloba in the memo.

In the explosive memo, Mr Chebukati had directed Mr Chiloba to explain why some election result forms lacked security features, explain the purchase of satellite phones that never worked and why hundreds of polling stations did not send results of the presidential election to the national tallying centre.

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