NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 15 – A Presiding Officer has been charged for failing to seal four ballot boxes in Runyenjes, during the just concluded General Election.
Justus Kariuki, who was in charge of the Kathunguri Primary school polling station said he failed to seal the boxes because there was no sufficient light in the room.
“I realised that the gas lamp was becoming dim. I was concerned that the light could go off before completion,” the teacher at Gitare secondary school in the area asserted.
Kariuki told Embu Senior Principal Magistrate Robinson Oigara that he had finished sealing the presidential and national assembly ballot boxes when he realised that he would not complete the work before a lamp supplied by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) went off.
He claimed that a police officer attached at the police station had also agreed with him that the boxes could be sealed at the constituency tallying centre.
The presiding officer was arrested by the same police officer who has since testified against him.
He told the court that he had unsuccessfully tried calling and sending a text message to another officer to bring another lamp.
Kariuki explained to the court that he was afraid of abandoning the tallying process to get another lamp due to the big crowd of people demanding to know the poll outcome.
He said the tallying exercise was completed at 2.30am but he could not seal the governor, women representative, senate and county representative ballot boxes at the venue and had to do it at the constituency tallying centre due to lighting.
He informed the court that the various party agents at the polling station signed the polling day diary which is used by the Presiding Officer indicating that the ballot boxes had been sealed.
“I told my deputy and the police that agents should accompany me but the agents said they had enough trust in me and would not accompany me. They appended their signatures in advance. No-one interfered with the content of the ballot boxes,” Kariuki asserted.
Kariuki was arrested as he filled in the papers at Kyeni tallying centre.
Kariuki and his deputy Noel Njagi are accused of failing to seal four ballot boxes at the polling centre.