Five polling stations are at the centre of controversy in the Kitui South parliamentary race after their presiding officers (POs) turned up at the constituency tallying centre without the original Forms 35A.
This comes as five candidates in the contest lodged a joint compliant protesting the re-election of Jubilee Party’s Rachael Kaki Nyamai.
The POs from different polling stations claimed they had lost the forms which contain the primary data on election results for members of National Assembly between the polling centres they were posted to and the tallying hall.
Upon interrogation by Returning Officer Sylvia Maritim, some claimed they may have deposited the crucial forms inside the sealed ballot boxes, prompting a delay in announcing results from the stations as election officials debated how to address the matter.
Jointly reject results
The anomaly arose as five out of the seven candidates who ran for Kitui South parliamentary seat jointly rejected the election results that showed incumbent MP Rachael Kaki Nyamai had won by a landslide.
Ms Nyamai was declared winner with 24,989 votes with her closest competitor, Onesmus Mumo Muthami King (ODM), garnering 11,916 votes.
The five protesting candidates claimed there were massive irregularities, including widespread voter bribery, buying of identity cards and intimidation, which compromised the entire election process.
The constituency returning officer announced that Ms Nyamai had won the seat despite the original Forms 35A from five polling stations still missing.
The RO, who declined to comment on the matter, went ahead to collate the poll figures using duplicate forms provided for by some party agents, and later announced the results.
The protesting candidates – Onesmus Mumo King (ODM), Daniel Ndambuki Mutua (Wiper), Dennis Mwangangi (UDA), Daniel Kilonzi Muthami (Mabadiliko) and Samuel Kiminza (UDM) — wrote a joint protest letter to the Independent Elections and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) detailing the alleged electoral malpractices.
They also demanded a recount of the ballots in all the six wards, saying there were cases of deliberate entry of wrong results where Ms Nyamai was allegedly awarded vote tallies of other candidates.
“The poll results announced by IEBC are not the true reflection of the people’s will, and that’s why there are demonstrations of disgruntled citizens in several places within Kitui South,” said Mr Mutua.
According to the joint protest letter seen by the Nation, the candidates complained that voter bribery was openly perpetrated by chiefs and their assistants where the administrators allegedly hovered at the entrances of polling stations offering cash handouts to voters.
Mr Mutua, a former commissioner of Prisons, said he intercepted the Chief for Kibwea Location in Mutomo/Kibwea ward at Syomithumo Primary School as he allegedly bribed voters to vote for Ms Nyamai, and demanded that he leaves the station.
“Voter bribery was widespread and we have documented evidence of many incidents that were reported to us,” said the Wiper party candidate.
On his part, Mr King cited inconsistent figures announced by the IEBC returning officer for Kitui South, Ms Maritim, which showed there was collusion between some election officials and Ms Nyamai to circumvent the will of the people.
Chiefs on the spot
He cited the alleged buying of ID cards by chiefs as part of the reason why there was a low voter turnout.
The candidates said they had enough evidence to sustain a successful petition challenging the election of Ms Nyamai.
There was a commotion at Mutomo Girls Secondary School, the constituency tallying centre, when the candidates walked in to deliver their protest letter to the returning officer, when Ms Nyamai asked police to eject them, claiming they had caused her enough trouble during the campaigns.
As Ms Nyamai was shouting, Mutomo Deputy Sub-County Police Commander Judah Gathege ordered the candidates to leave the tallying hall. The group protested that the police commander was giving Ms Nyamai preferential treatment yet they were all equal before the law as candidates.