Correspondence between IEBC chairman Chebukati and Safran Morpho, the suppliers of the Kenya Integrated Election Management System (KIEMS) reveals how the kit was handed to a third party for review less than two weeks to the hotly contested elections.
Chebukati, who had disagreed with half of the commissioners at the time, disregarded official advice from the commission’s IT experts, and took the kit together with the passwords to “a personal consultant” to test their efficacy.
After the personal consultant — believed to be his son — had completed his audit, he wrote a report which raised a number of questions ten days to the elections.
In the Report published in the Star, Chebukati pointed out several “potential ways the kits may fail or be engineered to fail” including rebooting the EVID kit “into recovery mode without any special permissions or notifications on the monitoring platform”.
“In recovery mode, an individual with physical access to the device can —among other things — factory reset the EVID o the default Android system it came within less than one minute,” he said.
Even more significant, the chairman also raised the possibility that “one EVID kit can scan multiple results transmission QR codes and recognize them.”
“This implies that one kit can transmit results on behalf of another polling station,” he observed.
Without the knowledge of his fellow commissioners and the commission secretary Ezra Chiloba, he wrote to Safran Morpho, giving the company 24 hours to respond to the queries with “concrete suggestions on how to alleviate and/or eliminate the concerns”.
He wrote: “The findings came about through preliminary testing of the kit by an independent body in less than a day further testing is still going on. The findings can be replicated without any special permission and may cause the kits to fail on election day.”
“I hereby insist you respond to these queries with concrete suggestions on how to alleviate and/or eliminate the concerns raised. We can then convene to discuss the proposals,” said Chebukati in an email dated July 24.
He reminded Safran that the commission was relying on the EVID kits for the elections and “any shortcomings must be addressed as soon as possible.”
Safran declined Chebukati’s request pending his disclosure of the the name of the independent body that conducted the tests and and the process followed.
Specifically, Safran posed: Where did the kits come from? What was the environment for testing? What was the procedure for testing? Who was supervising the tests?
The Chairman did not respond to the above questions. Instead, he explained that he had every right to know because, “as chairman of IEBC, the responsibility of managing Kenya’s elections is on my shoulders.”
Moreover, he added; “I am head of Commission which comprises six commissioners and the CEO is the commission secretary. Am also the National Returning Officer of the Presidential Elections. In that regard I must know everything in matters elections. This is a duty I must do within the framework of the Constitution and the laws of Kenya.”
“I shall not at the moment give details of the procedure adopted and issues of the supervision of the testing or even details of the environment thereof. In case I do not hear from you; I shall then place the matter before the commissioners for open discussion,” said Chebukati in an email to Safran Morpho on 25 July.
The chairman insisted that the tests were carried out by his personal consultant in his presence and threatened to share the findings with the commission if Safran did not respond within 24 hours.
The chairman did not disclose the name of the consultant — whom he referred to as his relative — to the commission. He had, however, earlier wanted his son, who was then studying in the US, to be attached to the ICT department but the son turned down the idea.
“The KIEMS kit was more or less a national security asset. When the Chairman of the IEBC took this kit to his personal consultant for testing, with whom did he consult? With whom did he share the purported findings?” asked a former IEBC Commissioner yesterday.