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Venezuelan officials on IEBC mission had ‘expired’ passports, Visa

The Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) has shared a reported blow by blow account leading to the recent arrest and detention of three foreigners at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) in Nairobi.

The trio was Venezuelan nationals and one of them was reportedly found in possession of electoral materials, including stickers, believed to be property of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC).

A statement signed by DCI boss George Kinoti identifies the trio as Mr Jose Gregorio Camarco, Joel Gustavo and Salvador Javier.

The DCI statement also contradicts a previous one by IEBC boss Wafula Chebukati to the effect that the trio were in the country on matters related to the August 9 polls.

Mr Kinoti says the trio informed Police during questioning they were invited by a civilian identified as Mr Abdulahi Abdi Mohamed on diverse dates.

“The officers having established the (electoral materials) were allegedly the property of IEBC they arrested the suspect and confiscated the stated rolls and went ahead to inquire from the suspect Mr Gregorio how he came into possession of the same. The suspect confessed he was given the materials from Panama by his company M/S Smartmatic International Holding B.V to deliver to one Mr Abdulahi Abdi Mohamed,” the statement by DCI boss read in part.

According to Mr Kinoti, the nabbed suspect who was incoherent and hesitant in answering questions posed on him had stickers meant for 10,000 polling stations located in Nairobi, Kiambu, Nakuru, Meru, Machakos, Murang’a, Bomet, Nyeri, Tharaka Nithi, Nyandarua, Kericho and one that was unprinted.

Further investigations revealed the stated electoral materials had been checked in as personal luggage and not cargo at the country of departure, Panama.

On arrival, Mr Gregorio did not declare the said luggage to the customs office at JKIA through filling of a form of compliance as required by the law.

Equally, he did not have any official documentation to justify being in possession of the said consignment.

Detectives also established the suspect had arrived in the country on a business visa and he was to be engaged by Mr Mohamed on work related issues at his office in Nairobi.

The officers were perturbed that such a sensitive and high-level  materials meant for IEBC had nobody waiting for him and in particular to receive the election material.

“It is while the detectives were questioning Mr Gregorio, that two other Venezuelan nationals arrived at the airport inquiring about his whereabouts,” Mr Kinoti said.

The other two Venezuelan nationals arrived in the country on July 15, carrying 17 rolls of IEBC stickers and managed to go through the screening undetected.

On checking the contract between Smartmatic International Holding the three suspects are not in any way captured as employees of IEBC.

Police further conducted on an apartment where they were living and they found two flash disks and a tablet which they handed over to the Anti-Terrorism Police Unit (ATPU).

The passports of Mr Joel and that of Mr Gregorio were all expired and it remains unclear how they managed to leave their home country.

The trio could also not give any details or contacts of anyone working with IEBC and who was expected to engage with them during their stay in Kenya.

Asked where he was to deliver the IEBC material, Mr Gregorio said that they were to be picked by a Kenyan whose name is Mr Paul Wachanga Mugo.

The DCI boss also questioned an early statement that was issued by Mr Chebukati who said that the three were part of the team contracted by IEBC ahead of the general elections.

Mr Chebukati also said that the materials that the three had belonged to the electoral agency and the police service were wrong in arresting and confiscating what the foreigners had.

However, Mr Kinoti said that his office had not received any formal communication by IEBC requesting for the 17 rolls of IEBC stickers.