For the benefit of full and complete disclosure, let me, at the very outset, indicate that I know almost every Kenyan interviewed in the ‘explosive’ KTN’s Jicho Pevu programme that aired two weeks ago about alleged electoral malpractices in the March 13 presidential election.
Although I can’t claim to be their close friend, I know both the dare-devil investigative journalists, Mohammed Ali and John Allan Namu.
I know of their solid professionalism and work. (Please note that I bestow upon both gentlemen the genteel and much sought after moniker - “journalists” - not mere reporters).
As they say in the West, the two kahunas have more than earned their keep. They have been consistent and focused on unearthing many murky issues in Kenya. As such, they cannot be ignored or dismissed as irritants because they are not.
It’s unfair, unfounded and completely gratuitous for some critics to disparage these fine journalists’ reputation on account of political partisanship.
I’m, of course, alive to the fact that KTN is an arm of The Standard Group, which is said to be owned by Gideon Moi – or by the Moi family.
I’m also conscious of the fact that The Standard Group, especially the KTN and The Standard Newspaper have been part of a vicious pro-ODM and pro-Raila Odinga confederacy that have engaged in the most vile and reprehensible journalism before, during and after the 2013 elections.
They – and many of their former and present reporters (not Ali and Namu) - have been serial slanderers of many people including this writer.
However, ownership and scurrilous reportage aside, we must get to the emblematic and larger question: was the 2013 presidential election stolen from Mr Odinga and the Cord Coalition?
Did President Uhuru Kenyatta, Deputy President William Ruto and the Jubilee Coalition win the 2013 elections fair and square?
That’s the pith and substance of the Jicho Pevu investigative piece and it is these core questions that should be addressed by all Kenyans of good will – whether one is Corded, Jubilant, politically atheistic or agnostic.
Despite our collective amnesia and repugnant sectarianism, we must be capable of judging professional work from a fair, neutral and equidistant basis.
I seriously doubt that Messrs Ali and Namu place calls to Mr Moi every morning or evening for instructions on which issues need investigation, which questions to ask those they are seeking answers from, and the amount of vigour they must adopt while pursuing a story. Admittedly, the Jicho Pevu exposé – by virtue of its very nature, budget and the time the investigation took – must have required prior approval. That’s elementary common-sense.
It’s also true that had the higher ups within the KTN power chain felt disinclined to fund the issue of the 2013 elections, they wouldn’t have approved Jicho Pevu’s budget, which, I admit – again - must have been quite steep.
Nor am I suggesting that one, some or all the interviewees are telling the truth in the Jicho Pevu programme. I don’t own a crystal ball.
In other words, there is some basis for the suspicion that whoever paid the piper also called the tune. However, that said, let’s interrogate some of the most controversial and salient points made by the programme.
For the record, I’m also well acquainted to many of the main characters interviewed in the programme: those for or against the electoral commission – people like ODM’s James Orengo, Narc Kenya’s Martha Karua and TNA’s Dennis Itumbi.
But more significantly, I have very good knowledge of James Oswago and some acquaintance with the IEBC chairman, Ahmed Issack Hassan.
In fact, on August 4, 2011, the former Prime Minister purported to suspend me as his senior adviser on account of manufactured allegations that Mr Oswago and I had conspired to undermine the IEBC and Mr Issack Hassan.
(Those days, Mr Odinga was desperate and blinded by his self-consuming ambition to become president that he mistakenly considered Mr Issack’s and Mr Oswago’s manipulative tendencies alluring. He would turn a blind eye to and participate in some of the shadiest IEBC procurement deals - and he assiduously courted and pampered the duo to his peril!)
In the ensuing cynically and maliciously engineered controversy, Mr Oswago’s personal assistant was also suspended. Mr.Oswago himself was ordered to return from the Philippines where he had ‘travelled on official duty.’ Eventually, Mr.Oswago’s PA’s contract was terminated.
Between July and December 2011, Mr Oswago kept communicating with me. He expressed full support for my cause. He also informed me that he had told Mr Odinga – then still Prime Minister – that the allegations against me were false and contrived.
Apparently, Mr Odinga confided to Mr Oswago that I was being “sacrificed in order to protect him because he [Mr. swago] was crucial to ODM’s fortunes in the 2013 Presidential elections.”
“I told Jakom that I was ready to be fired rather than be used to victimise you unfairly. They cannot use me to get rid of you for nothing,” Mr Oswago had fumed to me on the telephone before adding, “You know thura, if this is the way Jakom is, let him not cry later…”
Although the Prime Minister later half-heartedly acknowledged that I had been accused wrongly and announced my reinstatement, I had had enough of his serial hypocrisy. I publicly declined to accept the reinstatement and eventually published my memoirs.
Why am I telling you all this?
Well, as a prelude to saying that I know Mr Oswago extremely well. I know his voice. I understand his vocal intonations, his lexicon and his general attitude.
Based on my experience and personal knowledge, I can state without any fear of contradiction that the voice, words, tonal quiver and attitude I listened to on the Jicho Pevu documentary is none other than Mr Oswago’s.
As with the unwarranted victimisation and humiliation of both his PA and I previously, Mr Oswago routinely privately tried to cleanse his conscience but publicly maintains his ‘innocence.’
The content and context of both the recorded conversation and his half-hearted denials are significant. To begin with, Mr Oswago has not unequivocally stated that he had not spoken with anyone from ODM who might have audio-taped their conversation around March 2013. Neither has he strongly stated that the 2013 presidential election wasn’t rigged. Instead, he has asserted that “if there was any conspiracy to rig them, I wasn’t part of it and I had no knowledge of it.”
Neither has he expressly stated that all the allegations in the Jicho Pevu report are false. The only thing he has strongly protested against is being singled out and ‘outed.’ “Why hasn’t everyone been identified? Why have they distorted the voices of the other IEBC staff and the purported ODM official?” he has loudly protested.
He has justifiably demanded that the identities of all the IEBC personnel and the ODM official caught on tape should also be exposed; not just him alone. In other words, he doesn’t want to die alone.
Those are certainly neat legal quibbles. But they are not outright denials. Which begs the question: is Oswago telling the whole truth, nothing but the truth?
Secondly, it’s true that audio-taping him without his knowledge and consent is deemed unlawful, except that the ODM Deep Throat’s surreptitious wiring (was it Peter Anyang’ Nyong’o?) wouldn’t have ensnared the wily rabbit had his consent been sought.
But the main questions are these: Was there a man working in the IEBC’s IT section who had once worked at the Kenya Revenue Authority?
Was this man also a double-agent for the National Intelligence Security agency and the TNA party? If so, who had hired him at the IEBC? Was it Mr Oswago? Is the alleged double-agent still working at the IEBC? If he is still at the IEBC, has he managed to destroy or taint all evidence that could uncover his nefarious acts? If he hasn’t, why can’t we get to the bottom of all this mess and put the 2013 presidential electoral controversy to rest once and for all?
Secondly, Mr Itumbi makes intriguing disclosures in the broadcast portion of his interview. He states that TNA hired both Kencall’s facilities and personnel. If I understood his assertions correctly, Mr Itumbi stated that TNA paid for and used suites located in Kencall’s offices and had Kencall staff monitor, receive and dispatch their election results – essentially the same services Kencall was providing to the IEBC.
In his Presidential Petition, Mr Odinga had alleged that Kencall had used a single IP address 220.127.116.11 for both the IEBC and Mr Kenyatta’s TNA. Mr Odinga’s lawyers asserted that Kencall director, Alexander Nesbitt, “did not deny the fact that both the IEBC and TNA were hosted and operated on a single IP address.”
When asked about this in the Jicho Pevu interview, Mr Itumbi retorted that it is akin to saying that “just because both Mr Kenyatta and Mr Odinga have Gmail emails provided by Google doesn’t mean that they can read each other’s mail.”
However, what he omitted to say is that Google can actually read both gentlemen’s emails. Now, considering the fact that Kencall – purely out of pecuniary interest and greed (or was there something more sinister?)- had allowed itself to become an employee or contractor of TNA by not just ‘contracting out consulting services’ but by having some of its staff work for TNA out of its offices where it was also rendering the same services to the IEBC, why wouldn’t it be reasonable for anyone to have a reasonable apprehension that Kencall’s twin roles smacked of serious conflicts of interests?
I supported Jubilee in 2013. As such, I’m contented with the presidential election outcome. However, it would be unconscionable for me to refuse to acknowledge legitimate points raised by Jicho Pevu.
It’s much better to do everything in our power to retire all lingering doubts about the credibility of the elections rather than let it fester like a running sore. Unlike Mr Odinga and his Cordless colleagues, my quest for answers isn’t premised on the basis that both he and Cord won the 2013 presidential contest.
My assessment is that they did not. I’m fortified in that position by the fact that the Supreme Court ruling on Mr Odinga’s petition has settled that issue and rendered the question moot.
Yet the political rumblings and credible questions still remain on the role Kencall, the identified double agent, Mr Oswago and other IEBC officials played or did not play during the elections.
Elections are political and civic exercises more than they are legal. It’s in the best interests of both the winners and the losers of the 2013 presidential elections to accept to live with the results even if they cannot both embrace them.
Consequently, these political questions must first be answered fully before any tangential targeting of specific IEBC commissioners may be considered legitimate. After all, didn’t Mr Odinga and his choir condemn the entire commission as both rotten and worthless?
If so, it’s a pity that the bumbling bumpkins at ODM are purportedly trying to dissolve the IEBC through a petition to Parliament (where they cannot win) for the removal of nine IEBC commissioners.
Not only is that an exercise into futility; any intelligent person knows that IEBC commissioners aren’t the ones that conduct elections in Kenya. IEBC commissioners only use figures and documents relayed to them from “the field” - as it were.
If ODM is interested in substantive electoral reforms as they claim – and not the recruitment of commissioners they can manipulate - let them overhaul the entire institution. If they don’t, everything else they are busy doing is a waste of time, money and effort.
Miguna Miguna is a lawyer and author of Peeling Back the Mask: A Quest for Justice in Kenya and Kidneys for the King: Deforming the Status Quo in Kenya. [email protected]