Wetang’ula on the spot over ‘deals’ with Greek ballot printers (PDF letters)

Moses Wetang'ula, Ford-Kenya leader

Photo credit: Pool I Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • In letter to the IEBC and EACC, Raila’s camp alleges Kenya Kwanza is planning to interfere with the General Election through its close relationship with a Greek firm awarded the ballot printing tender in October last year, and whose officials were invited to Kenya by Wetang’ula nine months before they clinched the multi-billion-shilling deal.

Raila Odinga’s Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Coalition yesterday kicked up a storm over what it claimed was ‘interference” in the printing of this year’s General Election ballot papers by a close ally of Deputy President William Ruto, whom it accused of frolicking with a group of Greek businessmen awarded the ballots tender in October last year.

Here are the letters: The letters

The Odinga camp claimed that Bungoma Senator Moses Wetang’ula in January last year invited the three Greeks to Kenya to discuss “investment opportunities”, and that nine months later, in October the same year, the same individuals landed the lucrative tender from the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) through their company, Inform Lykos (Hellas) SA Holdings.

Documents show the Greek company was in October 2021 awarded a Sh3 billion contract by IEBC to supply and deliver ballot papers, a printed register of voters, statutory election result declaration forms and election result declaration forms. All the materials, the Nation understands, are to be used in this year’s General Election.

Yesterday the Azimio coalition party, through secretary-general Junet Mohamed, demanded that IEBC in conjunction with the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) and the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) “immediately commence full and thorough investigations” on Senator Wetang’ula’s relationship with Inform Lykos (Hellas) SA, and that “immediate action be taken to protect the General Election from interference through the surreptitious introduction of electoral materials or other unlawful means”.

Mr Mohamed, who is also the Suna East MP, added in the demand note that IEBC should immediately make public any information regarding the measures the commission has put in place “to ensure there are no lapses, both logistical and security, in the provision of electoral materials for the General Election”.

Mr Wetang’ula had not responded to our calls and text messages to his known phone number on the claims by press time yesterday. The Nation will publish his response on the matter once it gets it.

This gist of the alleged attempts to interfere with the General Election is that Mr Ruto’s Kenya Kwanza is banking on its close relationship with the ballot printers in Greece to aid in a scheme to manipulate results through “ballot stuffing and other electoral malpractices”. The scheme, said Mr Mohamed, is to be executed through printed electoral materials to be surreptitiously smuggled into the country through the Kenya-Uganda border in Bungoma County with the aid of rogue and compromised officials.

DP Ruto and Azimio’s Raila Odinga are the frontrunners in the race to succeed President Uhuru Kenyatta in the August elections, and the claims by Mr Mohamed run the risk of disparaging the validity of IEBC data on election day. They also put the IEBC, and specifically chairman Mr Wafula Chebukati, in the tough position of defending allegations of infiltration by a political player and the accusations of opaque practices in the procurement and awarding of tenders for the supply of essential services and materials in this year’s General Election.

Other than the invitations to the three businessmen, Mr Wetang’ula also wrote to the Greek ambassador to Kenya, Mr Antonios Sgourpoulos, on June 10, 2021, pushing to have Mr Joshua Abdalla Makokha, whom he describes as “personally known to me”, to be issued with a Schengen visa to enable him to travel to Athens, Greece.

The Nation has seen documents that indicate that the three invitations were made by Mr Wetang’ula to the three individuals separately on January 8, 2021 for a one-week stay in the country, starting January 14, 2021.

The visit to the country by the three, just months before the contract was awarded to their firm in October 2021, has resulted in further claims by Azimio that the tender may have been awarded through the personal intervention of Mr Wetang’ula.

“We have now established, beyond any doubt, that Inform Lykos (Hellas) SA secured the contract through the personal intervention of Mr Wetang’ula, who continues to exert influence over the contract,” said Mr Mohamed.

The Nation has also obtained documents showing 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.

The text and the content of the invitation letters, including the date and the purpose of their duration to the country, is the same, save for the names of the three invitees.

In the letters—all of them printed on the Bungoma Senator’s official Senate letterhead—Mr Wetang’ula goes on to describe Mr Anderson as the representative of Inform Company Greece, Mr Konstantinos as the commercial director of the same firm, and Mr Fernandez as CEO of Litofinter Company in Spain. 

By last evening the Nation had not established whether Mr Anderson’ and Mr Konstantinos’ company has any relations with the firm contracted by the IEBC to supply the election materials.

The Nation, however, established that Mr Wetang’ula had thanked the three “for the interest you have shown in wanting to invest in Kenya, and in particular Bungoma County”, and was glad to welcome them to the country “from January 14, 2021 for a period of one week during which you will have an opportunity to visit different parts of Bungoma, Busia and Trans Nzoia counties”.

Yesterday, Mr Mohamed was doubtful whether the purpose of the visit to Kenya by the three individuals as highlighted in the letters by Mr Wetang’ula, was accomplished.

But he was certain about one thing: “To our knowledge, no investments have ever been made in any of the three counties by Lykos,” he said.

In June 2021, two months before the IEBC published the tender for the supply of ballot papers and other electoral materials, including the printed register of voters, statutory election result declaration forms and election result declaration forms, Mr Wetang’ula wrote the Greece ambassador to Kenya seeking assistance for the clearance of Mr Makokha to visit Greece.

Mr Makokha is described by Mr Wetang’ula in the letter to the ambassador as the East African representative of the American Institute for International Policy Makers and Public Administrators. 

The Bungoma Senator goes on to say that Mr Makokha has been invited to Athens, Greece by Mr Kostas Grekis, whom he describes in the letter as the CCO of Inform Group from June 15, 2021.

“Mr Makokha is personally known to me as his Senator. The visit will give him an opportunity to see the innovations developed by the company and report back to me after the visit on areas of cooperation with the national government and county government of Bungoma,” Mr Wetang’ula wrote in the June 10, 2021 letter.

“I give your excellency my assurance and undertaking that he shall return to the country to continue with his duties after attending the aforementioned meeting. I request your assistance to enable him to get his Schengen entry visa to the state of Greece in good time to attend the said function,” he added.

Soon after the IEBC awarded the tender to the Greek company, disgruntled bidders wrote to the Public Procurement Administrative Review Board (PPARB) asking for a review of the matter. The board nullified the tender but its decision was overturned by the High Court soon thereafter.

Two months before the award, on June 21, 2021, the IEBC had convened a virtual meeting with interested bidders for the supply and delivery of ballot papers, register of voters, statutory election results declaration forms, and other polls management material.

Other than the bidders, the meeting was attended by six IEBC members of staff; Mr Harley Mutisya, Mr Rasi Masudi, Mr Abdikadir Maalim, Mr Waqo Shuke, Mr Shadrack Ruto, Mr Mohamed Iman, Mr Samson Matilu, and Mr Obadiah Keitany.

The IEBC team asked the bidders, whose identities are not revealed in minutes from the session in the Nation’s possession, to supply 3,000 pieces of ballot papers for evaluation and comparison. It also asked the bidders to supply six pieces of results declaration forms and one sample of a register of voters.

In the meeting, the bidders sought clarification on whether they would be allowed to tender as a consortium, which the IEBC rejected. The IEBC also rejected requests for extension of the tender submission deadline, noting that “the period provided was adequate”.

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