The bungling up of August 8th Elections in Kenya may once again boil down to one thing, the lack of moral and ethical values amongst Kenyans. If you remember, the 2013 Elections were shrouded in a mystery of chickengate scandal, a scandal that saw executives of Smith and Ouzman jailed for bribing IEBC officials. To date, the IEBC officials who received the bribes are yet to be found guilty. But before chickengate is resolved in Kenya, the IEBC is finding itself in yet another brewing scandal this time involving O.T. Morpho that supplied the Commission with ICT infrastructure for conducting the August 8th Elections.
A glimpse into the scandal that is slowly brewing was captured in a memo by IEBC chairman Wafula Chebukati in which he asked IEBC Chief Executive Officer Ezra Chiloba as follows, “The Commission spent about KES 848 Million to purchase satellite phones: the phones were to be distributed to each constituency and county tallying centre. Additionally areas with no network were specifically supplied with these devices, however none of these ever worked. Respond and explain what occasioned the massive failure in the devices that would have been used in transmitting the results”. Related to the question, Chebukati had also told Chiloba that “The Commission had contracted Messer MFI to avail printing and scanning machines across the Country, for the use in the 8th August, 2017 polls.” He then asked him to “respond and explain on whether these machines were supplied – fit for purpose – as contracted, and where they were availed and failed to work, explain failure”.
On surface value the above questions by Chebukati seem unrelated to O.T. Morpho that is formerly known as Safran Identity & Security, but following an alleged audit that O.T. Morpho contracted some external experts to do on its servers that were used by IEBC, experts that found no fault with the servers, Kenyans have dug deeper in O.T. Morpho and managed to unearth some damning revelations, revelations that show just how deep O.T. Morpho has been involved in Fraud, Deceit and outright Scam.
The digging first lands us in March 2012 when Louisiana Record published an article titled Statewide fingerprint system at heart of fraud case, in which it was reported that “Thinkstream, Inc. filed suit on March 5 against Morphotrak, Inc. in the Orleans Parish Civil District Court”. Morphotrak, Inc is the O.T. Morpho’s company based in the US. In the case, Morphotrak, Inc was “accused of fraud for falsely representing its track record and capabilities of its products in order to entice the plaintiff into an agreement”, basically meaning the Morphotrak was involved in deceit.
We then jump to September 7 2012 when Daily Nation published an article titled Ballot kits firm fined Sh52m for bribing officials. The Ballot kists firm in question was known as Safran Morpho. According to the article, Safran Morpho that had been identified by Canadian Government to supply Canada with 16,000 Biometric kits had been fined by a Paris Court “after it was found guilty of bribing public officials in Nigeria to win a Sh17 billion identity cards production tender.” The crime Safran Morpho committed in Nigeria places it in the same scandalous forum with Smith and Ouzman of UK that was the architect of chickengate scandal in Kenya.
Scandals didn’t end with those two. In 2016, Safran Morpho would find itself enmeshed in the US Russia hacking scandal that saw Donald Trump win the electoral college votes despite losing the popular votes to Hillary Clinton. To date, the FBI is still investigating the possibilities that Russians hacked the US electoral technology in order to aid Donald Trump win the elections. The involvement of Safran Morpho in the US hacking claim is being fronted on the basis that Safran Morpho is the company that supplied technologies containing Russian ‘backdoor’ that would enable the Russians gain access to US votes.
In a lawsuit newly unsealed in federal court in San Jose, the French firm, Morpho, and its parent company, Safran Group, also based in France, was accused of making “surreptitious sales of more than $1 billion in Russian technology to federal, state and local governments in the United States between 2009 and 2015″, SF Gate reported on Sunday, August 14, 2016. Some of the technologies supplied especially those dealing with fingerprint scanning, the suit claimed, had a software laced with a backdoor “that would enable the Russian government to override fingerprint identification devices in such strategic places (as) the Pentagon, the CIA, the NSA (National Security Agency) and other secure areas, and gain unauthorized entry”, the article added.
In relation to Kenya’s elections, the opposition coalition NASA has written to French Government asking France to prosecute two officials Laurent Lampert and Alel Gaucher of O.T. Morpho who the coalition alleges to have helped IEBC and Jubilee gain unauthorized access to IEBC servers in order to alter August 8th Presidential and other results. O.T. Morpho has since said that no hacking or alteration of results took place following an audit it conducted itself through the help of some external experts.
What concerns me is how IEBC could go ahead to single source O.T. Morpho to supply ICT technologies despite the fact that a Paris Court had actually fined the firm for bribing Nigerian officials in order to win a tender – unless the IEBC officials were likewise bribed.