- Gitobu was the man in the spotlight over the election squabbles that pitted Kirinyaga Governor Waiguru and independent candidate Wangui Ngirici.
- Ngirici accused the official of allegedly being compromised and colluding with her political competitor to deny her victory.
Geoffrey Gitobu was thrust into spotlight over the election squabbles that pitted Kirinyaga Governor Anne Waiguru and independent candidate Wangui Ngirici.
The now deceased Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission official was the Gichugu constituency returning officer.
The politically volatile constituency, which largely determined and delivered Waiguru’s victory by more than 15,000 votes, was hotly contested by the two frontrunners, who often engaged in an intense online spat.
Their agents and supporters also often clashed within and outside Kianyaga Boys High School, which served as the constituency tallying centre.
Drama played out for the better part of August 11, two days after voting, as Ngirici — in the company of her lawyer and supporters — stormed the tallying centre and demanded for a re-tally of her votes.
This happened after the outgoing Kirinyaga woman representative questioned the credibility of the results released by the IEBC.
Ngirici accused the official of allegedly being compromised and colluding with her political competitor to deny her victory.
Waiguru, on the other hand, led her agents and supporters in defending her victory under the pretext that the constituency was her home turf, thus enjoying massive support.
Anticipation rose and fell as tension built up, with each passing minute within and outside the centre as supporters of both camps locked horns, calling for police intervention who quelled the tension.
Despite the tension at the centre, the returning officer exhibited tenacity and resilience in handling the matter.
He led the two warring factions in a repeat tally after being granted the go ahead from the commission, and which eventually confirmed Waiguru’s victory.
In the constituency, Waiguru garnered 36,675 votes against Ngirici's 21,285 votes.
In the previous day, Gitobu was entangled in settling yet another dispute that saw the two political rivals trade barbs via their social media platforms.
This is after one of the presiding officers attempted to jump the long queue made by the officers as they were returning the election results to the tallying centres.
The presiding officer is said to have sought another entrance in the centre while carrying the poll materials so that she could be served quickly.
Her impatience, however, is said to have been mistaken as attempts to have some "foreign ballot boxes sneaked through the back door,” an act that saw both camps get into a heated exchange.
Days later, Ngirici expressed her dissatisfaction with the manner in which the election was handled and pledged to file a petition seeking to challenge Waiguru’s victory.
The independent said she had evidence of how "massive rigging" characterised the poll, and how about 51,000 votes were illegally awarded to her competitor.
Waiguru was declared the winner with a total of 113,088 votes against Ngirici, who came in second after garnering 105,677 votes.
Gitobu's death came as a shock to the county 's IEBC fraternity, with the county returning officer Jane Gitonga expressing her sadness.
According to Gitonga, the official is said to have collapsed while at the IEBC Nanyuki office on Monday shortly after running some official errands.
Efforts to have him rushed to a nearby medical facility did not yield fruits as he was pronounced dead on arrival.
The 57-year-old official, who was in Nanyuki to visit his family over the weekend after the election campaign, was to get back to the county on Monday in preparation to resume work on Wednesday.
His body is lying at the Nanyuki Cottage Hospital mortuary awaiting postmortem, which will shed light on his death.
(edited by Amol Awuor)