Safaricom fights back over Raila Odinga poll claim

Tuesday September 26 2017

Leading mobile phone service provider Safaricom has declared it is ready to be investigated after Nasa leader Raila Odinga accused it of working with a French digital security firm to tilt the August 8 elections outcome in favour of President Uhuru Kenyatta.

Dragging the giant mobile firm into the presidential election dispute, Mr Odinga charged that Safaricom routed results from polling stations to OT-Morpho servers in France without ensuring that the outcome ended up in the servers of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC).

He alleged that the mobile phone firm knew that 100 electronic (Kiems) kits had been stolen from the IEBC and never reported the theft of the gadgets, which were later used to transmit results from fake polling stations to sway the outcome in favour of the Jubilee presidential candidate.

Safaricom however dismissed the accusations as “reckless, callous and unnecessary” and warned that the allegations could endanger the lives of its members of staff and families.

Chief executive Bob Collymore, in a statement, said they were ready to be investigated by any agency on the role they played in the elections.

Mr Odinga’s accusations came on a dramatic day when police battled Nasa leaders and supporters in the streets of Nairobi and Kisumu.


The protesters were calling for the resignation of commission chief executive Ezra Chiloba.

Mr Odinga’s security detail, that of his running mate Kalonzo Musyoka and co-principal Musalia Mudavadi was withdrawn by the government ahead of the demonstrations.

President Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto on Tuesday dismissed the protests against the electoral agency as signs that Nasa is not ready for the repeat election. 

“If he (Raila) does not want elections, he should relax. We want to have elections peacefully,” President Kenyatta said at Maai Mahiu in Naivasha.

Speaking at his Capitol Hill Towers office in Upper Hill, Nairobi, Mr Odinga accused Safaricom, which was contracted by IEBC to provide network coverage for the transmission of results, of colluding with OT-Morpho to rig the election in favour of President Kenyatta.

The Nasa leader claimed the mobile phone firm deliberately sabotaged the process of results transmission by routing figures from the polling stations to OT-Morpho servers, creating a window for the manipulation of the numbers.

Mr Odinga said an analysis of the transmission pattern showed that while results were sent from the polling stations through the Safaricom network to the servers in France, they failed to reach the IEBC portal.

“None of the Kiems kits under Safaricom’s network ever got their results onto the IEBC’s public web portal.

"Consequently, results from the polling stations in Kiems kits left the country but never found their way back to IEBC,” he said.

While all the data transmitted to the system was to be conveyed through a Virtual Private Network (VPN), which restricts tampering of figures, one of the networks was terminated at a cloud server registered in Spain but operated in France under control of OT-Morpho, claimed the Nasa leader, adding that this was done with the full knowledge of Safaricom.

“It has come to our knowledge that one of these VPNs terminated at a cloud server registered in Spain but operated in France under control of OT-Morpho. However, VPNs from Safaricom terminating locally were never set up,” he said.


But Mr Collymore said Safaricom played its role of routing the results from Kiems kits to the IEBC servers in areas that it had been allocated and that the figures were captured on the IEBC portal.

“Contrary to what is alleged in the Nasa statement, results from Kiems kits from Safaricom zones were transmitted and are on the IEBC web portal,” he said and explained that the responsibility of transmitting the results from the IEBC servers to the constituency and national tallying centres was the preserve of the commission and the political players, among them Nasa, were aware.

“Safaricom is ready to face any investigations and/or private prosecutions brought by any party on this matter,” he said and criticised Mr Odinga for claiming that the firm was aware that 100 Kiems kits had been stolen from IEBC and failed to report.

He said such a responsibility lay with the commission.

Meanwhile, OT-Morpho, in its defence, has threatened to sue, saying the accusations were damaging to the company.

Addressing journalists a few hours after supporters of the Nasa coalition launched protests against officials of the IEBC, Mr Odinga further claimed hundreds of Kiems kits were stolen from the IEBC in the wake of the murder of acting director of information technology Chris Msando.

The Kiems kits, he argued, were operated on the Safaricom network even though the company’s management knew they were not under the control of IEBC.

“Safaricom allowed this illegality to go on and did not even care to report the various illegal activities of these Kiems kits.

"This collusion between Safaricom, IEBC and Safran remains intact and the firm is set to do the same thing it did in August,” he said.

He said the coalition has identified six individuals at Safaricom who had intimate knowledge of the conspiracy and has instructed its lawyers to begin private prosecutions against them.