Jubilee headquarters office in Pangani on 7/September/2016. PHOTO BY EDWARD KIPLIMO.
President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Jubilee Party has suspended senior party officials over attempts to fraudulently print and sell nomination certificates to gullible aspirants.
As a result of the racket that was discovered early this week, seven employees, four in the IT department and three supervisors at the Jubilee Party (JP) headquarters in Pangani have been fired.
Shocked junior staff privy to the ongoing investigations told Saturday Standard the employees received millions of shillings from aspirants to secretly print for them official nomination certificates and ballot papers.
Keen to get the much-sought certificate, some crafty aspirants in Jubilee strongholds are said to have fallen prey to the tech savvy youngsters who promised to assist them navigate the tricky primaries.
Sources revealed that the aspirants duped in the elaborate swindle lost between Sh200,000 and Sh500,000 in a scam that has threatened to mar the nomination set for April 21.
On Friday, a party official said some 50 aspirants had fallen for the trick and had already parted with the money. “We discovered that something was amiss when we started receiving complaints from some aspirants about paying money which was not receipted as required,” the official said.
Among those fleeced are three gubernatorial aspirants from Mt Kenya and two from Rift Valley. It is claimed that a top gubernatorial aspirant who joined the party recently may have lost in excess of Sh2 million in the scandal.
Also in the list are seven senatorial contenders, with majority of those who fell for the snare being aspirants for the National Assembly seats. Eight ward representative aspirants were also conned by the cunning IT gurus.
Reached for comment, Party Vice Chairman David Murathe said he was not aware of the episode and referred us to Secretary General Raphael Tuju.
“That is news to me. I have not heard such a thing,” Murathe said.
The seven employees, some of whom were involved in the clearance of aspirants that ended last week, were said to have received the money in cash to deliver the crucial documents ahead of nominations.
They had fooled the gullible hopefuls that they would be involved in the preparation and printing of ballot papers and certificates. But unknown to them, the party had already secured a deal with an Indian company to print the election material.
“These IT experts are not privy to preparations of the nominations, they are just giving technical support,” the party official told us in an interview. “They thought that since they have the data of all aspirants cleared, it would be easier for them to print parallel ballot papers to be used in rigging. They were shocked that the process would be done outside the country.”
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The seven employees were first arrested before a top party official intervened to have them released without being charged, our source revealed yesterday.
“The party official who called for their release argued that if they are taken to court it would give the party bad publicity. And in any case, it is the aspirants who had lost the money, not the party,” an official told Saturday Standard.
Back up plan
They were arrested by Pangani police officers currently stationed at the JP party headquarters.
Friday, an aspirant who opened up to us said he had been duped into the deal by his colleague who introduced him to “a party employee involved in the nomination exercise.”
“He told me that he had already given out Sh200,000 to some party officials so that he can get extra ballot papers in case the nominations don’t go his way. I thought this was a good back up plan,” said an aspirant from Central Kenya who is eyeing a parliamentary seat.
Another source said an attempt by some of the aggrieved aspirants to seek intervention from the top party hierarchy was nipped in the bud when they were warned that they would also be subject to a disciplinary process.
“They were warned that if they continue pursuing the matter, they would be removed from the list of aspirants to participate in the primaries,” the source said.