Wetang’ula denies Greek firm link in ballot papers saga

Bungoma Senator Moses Wetang’ula

Bungoma Senator Moses Wetang’ula. He has rubbished reports linking him to a ballot printing scandal even as former prime minister Raila Odinga continued to press the electoral agency to give assurances on the integrity of the August 9 poll.

Photo credit: Sila Kiplagat | Nation Media Group

Bungoma Senator Moses Wetang’ula has rubbished reports linking him to a ballot printing scandal even as former prime minister Raila Odinga continued to press the electoral agency to give assurances on the integrity of the August 9 poll.

Mr Wetang’ula denied claims that he authored letters inviting three individuals claimed to be the officials of Inform Lykos (Hellas) SA, a Greek company that was awarded a Sh3 billion tender to print ballot papers and the voter register to be used in next month’s General Election.

Mr Odinga’s Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Coalition Party, for whom he’s the presidential flagbearer, has alleged the close links between Mr Wetang’ula — who is in Deputy President William Ruto’s Kenya Kwanza Alliance — and officials of the firm awarded the tender by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) is part of scheme to rig the presidential vote.

Disowned letters

On Wednesday, Mr Wetang’ula disowned letters authored between January and June last year, when he was still a member of the One Kenya Alliance (OKA). He joined Kenya Kwanza in January.

“If any letters were written [on an official letterhead of] the Bungoma senator’s office, they must be forgeries. I have never written such letters,” said Mr Wetang’ula.

“ODM must keep me out of their election woes and [accept] that they are, once again, staring at a disastrous election outing. I do not and I repeat, I do not know the three foreigners being referred to,” added the Bungoma senator.

Documents obtained by the Nation show that on January 8, 2021, Mr Wetang’ula separately invited Mr Awa David Anderson, Mr Antonio Ramon Fernandez and Mr Gkrekis Konstantinos for a “one-week investment tour” from January 14, 2021 in Bungoma, Busia and Trans Nzoia counties.

Official letterhead

The letters bore Mr Wetang’ula’s official letterhead and his signature. In the letters, Mr Wetang’ula describes Mr Anderson as the representative of Inform Company Greece, Mr Konstantinos as the commercial director of Inform company Greece and Mr Fernandez as CEO Litofinter Company, Spain.

“Thank you for the interest you have shown in wanting to invest in Kenya and, in particular, Bungoma County. I therefore take this opportunity to formally invite you to Kenya as from January 14, 2021 for a period of one week,” the letters read.

The documents in our possession also show that on June 10, 2021, two months before the IEBC published the tender for the supply of election materials, Mr Wetang’ula wrote to the Greece ambassador to Kenya, Mr Antonios Sgourpoulos.

The letter requested the ambassador to assist Mr Joshua Abdalla Makokha, whom he describes as “personally known to me”, with the issuance of a Schengen entry Visa to enable him travel to Athens, Greece.

Mr Makokha is described in the letter to the ambassador as the East African representative of the American Institute for International Policymakers and Public Administrators.

“The visit will give him an opportunity to see the innovations developed by the company and report back to me on areas of cooperation with the national government and the County Government of Bungoma,” the June 10, 2021, letter reads.

When we contacted the Greek Embassy in Nairobi Wednesday, officials there could not confirm or deny that Mr Wetang’ula wrote to the ambassador or the identity of the individuals invited to the country from Greece.

Ambassador out of the country

“We acknowledge with thanks receipt of your email. We would, however, like to inform you that HE Mr Antonios Sgouropoulos, Ambassador, is out of the country,” read an email from Ms Betty Ndiritu, an embassy official.

While campaigning in Kiambu County yesterday, Mr Odinga claimed that the clandestine invitations of the three individuals into the country and the dispatching of the Kenyan to Greece was a well calculated move to influence the award of the tender and ensure printing of excess ballot papers. Mr Odinga said IEBC Chairman Wafula Chebukati has frustrated calls by the Azimio team for a printed register at every polling station as a fall back plan in case the Kenya Integrated Election Management (Kiems) kits fail during election day.

Mr Odinga went on to warn that, unless there is a manual register at every polling station, then there will be no election.

“There are attempts to rig the August elections and we are aware. Someone sent people to Greece to oversee the publication of extra presidential ballot papers and then smuggle them into Kenya after they have been marked in favour of [a certain candidate] in a neighbouring country,” said Mr Odinga.

‘Stuff marked ballot papers’

He claimed those behind the plan have identified 10,000 polling stations where they will stuff 200 marked ballot papers in each polling station so as to get an extra two million votes.

“That’s why Chebukati [doesn’t want] the manual register [because it] will reveal how many people voted.”

“It’s a must that we have a manual register at each and every polling station alongside the electronic identification of voters. It is not negotiable. Unless that happens, there will be no elections in August,” Mr Odinga warned.

Azimio Secretary-General Junet Mohamed claimed Mr Chebukati knows what is happening while accusing the IEBC boss of attending “many” meetings in at Mr Wetang’ula’s house in Karen, Nairobi.

“Mr Chebukati should come clean and share with Kenyans what he knows about the scheme and the deals he cut with Wetang’ula. We are not fools. We know what is happening,” Mr Mohamed charged.

Mr Mohamed warned that, unless IEBC guarantees a free, fair, transparent and peaceful elections, they will likely be cancelled by the Supreme Court, same as it happened with the August 8, 2017 General Election.

Responding to the allegations Dr Ruto accused the Azimio leaders of interfering with the printing of ballot papers.

Propaganda

“They have started engaging in propaganda claiming that there are ballots that will come from Uganda. We are not concerned about those who are printing or those who are counting the votes but [with] the people of Kenya,” DP Ruto said.

Garissa Township MP Aden Duale said Azimio had resorted to attacking and interfering with the independence of the IEBC because they have realised that President Uhuru Kenyatta and the “deep state” would not help them.

“We are telling them to stop attacking and blaming the agency because they will only count and tally the votes. Kenyans are the ones who will vote and this time round they have decided it is William Ruto,” said Mr Duale.


[email protected] Additional reporting by Gitonga Marete and Jacob Walter

Welcome!

You're all set to enjoy unlimited Prime content.