Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Press Statement by Okiya Omtatah on BVR Kits

Okiya Omtatah


The acquisition of the BVR kits should not become another Anglo-Leasing Scandal

First of all we demand categorically that that Kenya must adopt the Biometric Voter Registration system for the March 4, 2013, general elections. We also demand that the elections must be held no later than March 4, 2013.

However, we are dismayed by reports that the Government wants to contract Code Inc. of Canada to supply the BVR solution for Kenya. Code Inc. was one of the 29 firms that bid for the IEBC’s recently cancelled BVR Kits Tender. Code did not make it to the shortlist because it was disqualified at the outset for presenting a defective Bankers Bid Bond.

Reliable sources within the IEBC have informed us that the Tender specifications were very much tailored to fit Code Inc, because the firm had carried out a small pilot BVR project for the IIEC. From the word go, IEBC wanted Code Inc. To win this tender.

The same sources informed us that BVR bid evaluation process was continually interfered with by Code Inc. which enjoys cordial relations with persons at the highest level within IEBC, who repirtedly receive monthly stipends from Code Inc. Indeed, the former IIEC Commissioner David Chirchir is the local representative for Code Inc.

For example, in widely circulated hacked email correspondence with a Mr. Rajender Sachdeva of Symphony, a Mr. Gordon Sinclair of Code Inc. claims to have great influence throughout the IEBC, including having very special relationship with the Chairman, Mr. Ahmed Issack Hassan! In one of the emails, Mr. Gordon Sinclair says, "I can say that my priority at this point is to do the best to help out my good friend Hassan pull the rabbit out of the hat."

Further to the above, we want the Government and the IEBC to tell Kenyans why they are keen to conduct business with a company with the following hanging over its head:
(i)                  There are reports to the effect that Code Inc. is blacklisted in Fiji for, among other reasons, being a security risk because it was to share the biometrics information of Fijians with Western intelligence agencies. In fact, there are claims that Code Inc. is actually owned by the Canadian Intelligence Services (CIS) and that the Management of Code Inc. are all operatives of CIS. The Canadian CIS is the equivalent of the CIA of the United States of America.
(ii)                The company was recently deregistered in Canada. On 21st June, 2012, Code Inc. went into voluntary liquidation and. the firm of Ernest & Young, Auditors was appointed as Liquidators. Therefore, from 21st June, 2012, Code Inc. ceased to conduct business, since it was liquidated. That Code Inc. was put into voluntary liquidation because of the Fiji experience had exposed its true identity as a foreign intelligence agency. Hence, the liquidation was nothing more than a cosmetic rebranding of Code Inc. into a new outfit called Electoral Services International. This new Company is only a few weeks old, but its under the same ownership and management.

It is also equally disturbing that the Treasury, which is conducting the single sourcing, christened Government-to-Government procurement (yet no Government in the world manufactures the BVR kits), has not disclosed the price of the kits. To make matters worse, there is talk of getting a foreign loan worth billions of shillings to finance the purchase the BVR kits yet Parliament allocated the IEBC billions of shillings in the last budget for the acquisition of the kits, which money was the basis of their cancelled tender.

Where have the billions gone so that Kenyans are forced to pay twice for the same? Are the IEBC and the Treasury setting us up for another scandal of looting public coffers that will make the Anglo Leasing one look like a joke.

Further, other than the safety of the biometric data of Kenyan citizens, there is the question of time. Code Inc. does not manufacture BVR kits; they are simply middlemen who have to source them from manufactures. This makes us wonder why, with the very limited time left, why is the Government not approaching a consortium of manufacturers to quickly manufacture and supply the kits so that they can be used in time for the March 4, 2013, elections?

Our very strong recommendation is that the Government should source the BVR kits directly from a consortium several manufacturers so that the same can be supplied quickly so as to eliminate the possibility of creating an excuse to delay the elections.

Strangely, the tender for Poll Books has also not been awarded. Is the IEBC planning to create another crisis that will lead to the cancellation of this tender too, so as to generate a situation where this Poll Book tender procurement also is single sourced to Code Inc.?

What is being witnessed is reminiscent of events that disgraced the former electoral body, the ECK, to a point that Kenyans resorted to the 2007/8 existential postelection violence.

Hence, the IEBC must not gamble with public confidence. The IEBC must style up. The process of acquiring a BVR solution for Kenya must be efficient, transparent and accountable to the point where the Kenyan on the street will have no doubts that the commission hasd put in place a process to deliver credible elections on March 4, 2013. And we reiterate our suggestion that the Government/IEBC stop dealing with middlemen and proceeds to procure the BVR kits directly from a consortium of companies that manufacture them.

We call on Kenyans to be vigilant and spare nothing in ensuring that IEBC holds a transparent process. We shall not be held back from street protests, including occupation of offices, as well as seeking judicial action if they do not listen to us.

For Civil Society Groups:
Date: Wednesday, August 15, 2012.
Okiya Omtatah
Executive Director
Kenyans for Justice and Development (KEJUDE) Trust

No comments:

Post a Comment