Court rejects attempt to scrutinise BVR kits, throws out Maina Kiai case

The High court on Wednesday threw out an attempt to publicly scrutinise BVR kits ahead of August 8 polls.

This followed a case lodged by human rights activist Maina Kiai.

Kiai had taken IEBC to court for allegedly flouting pre-export verification standards in the importation of the voter identification devices and for failing to allow public participation.

In the ruling, Justice John Mativo said he failed to provide sufficient material to prove the electoral agency committed illegalities in the procurement of biometric kits.

“I find and hold that the petitioners have failed to demonstrate that they are entitled to the reliefs sought in the petition,” Mativo ruled.

The judge also said claims by the activist that there was no public participation were not proved.

“Public participation does not dictate that everyone must give their view on the issue at hand,” the judge said.

“To have such a standard would be to give veto power to each individual in the community to determine community collective affairs.”

Kiai, Muhuri chairman Khelef Khalifa and Tirop Kitur wanted IEBC forced to procure new devices should anomalies be revealed in the public scrutiny which they wanted to participate in.

The trio had accused the agency and Kenya Bureau of Standards of misapplication of the law by importing kits not subjected to pre-export verification standards.

Their argument was that Safran Identity and Security Company supplied the IEBC with kits similar to those which failed during the March 4, 2013, general election.

The company initially supplied 10,000 kits while 35,000 more were shipped into the country later.

They said they feared the kits, which will be used for verification of voters and transmission of results, might malfunction on election day.

In response to the suit, IEBC CEO Ezra Chiloba told court there was enough public participation.

Chiloba explained that to ensure public participation in the procurement process, a specification committee was formed to deal with the public.

He also said the electoral agency set up a technical committee which proposed the procurement of kits as provided for under Section 44(8) of the Election Act.

Justice Mativo observed that public participation is necessary for the purposes of realising the spirit of the constitution which allows a free, fair, credible and transparent election.

But he noted the position would have been different had the three provided sufficient material to counter Chiloba’s claims.

“In absence of such evidence, I find no reason to doubt Chiloba’s explanation rendered on oath.”

It was the judge’s view that IEBC demonstrated there was some form of public involvement, sufficient to satisfy the requirement for public participation.

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