The loser in Tuesday’s Dabaso by-election in Kilifi County Thursday narrated how he and his agents were harassed and detained as his rival’s agents allegedly controlled the process.
The immediate former MCA Emmanuel Changawa recorded a statement with the police, claiming to have been assaulted by some of his former colleagues in the County Assembly of Kilifi and other Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) party supporters in the presence of police officers.
Speaking to journalists after recording his statement at the Watamu Police Station, Changawa, who vied on a Movement for Democracy and Growth (MDG) ticket claimed that election officials and the Malindi Security Committee chose to look the other way as hired goons harassed and intimidated voters, as well as hijacking his agents.
Mr Changawa, who lost to Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) party’s Dickson Karani, described the by-election as a sham but did not state what course of action he intended to take, only stating, “There was no election.”
He accused the police and Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) officials of deliberately turning a deaf ear to his complaints that hired goons from the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) party were terrorizing voters in his (Changawa) political strongholds.
Mr Changawa claimed he was assaulted at the gate of the Ngala Memorial Girls Secondary School Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), which was the tallying centre) by ODM uniformed security men and some Members of the Kilifi County Assembly he claimed to know.
“When I found that my life was in danger, I decided to use a motorcycle to reach the school, but officers at the gate denied me entry despite giving them my documents and explaining to them that as a candidate, I had the right to be inside the tallying centre,” he said.
Speaking in his Dabaso ward home Wednesday, Mr Changawa claimed that as he was arguing with the police officers, some of the MCAs identified him and started pulling him towards a charging crowd, tearing his shirt in the process.
“It was only after I cried aloud when the school watchman rushed and opened the small gate for me, thus saving me. When I entered the hall, IEBC officials and senior police officers played ping-pong games with me, leaving me with no option but to fear that my life was as much in danger inside the hall as it was outside,” he said.
He claimed that some of his agents and ardent supporters were arrested and detained at the Watamu Police Station, but they were released after the by-election without any charges preferred against them.
“Some people made their way to the voting centers and began to take control of the whole process. I reported this matter to the police and the returning officer but no one was arrested for these actions.
“However, the goons were granted the leeway to take our people, beat them up then take them to Watamu Police Station with claims that they were bribing voters,” said Mr. Changawa.
MDG’s Deputy Treasurer, Jackson Mbovu Mwadalu, claimed that he was hijacked and bundled into one of the vehicles of the hired goons, “who beat me up as the vehicle was moving at high speed, and I thought they would kill me.”
Another agent Philip Majengo, said he was arrested outside the Mijomboni Primary School tallying centre as he was making a phone call. He was later taken to the Watamu police station where he was accused of bribing voters, he said.
Former Dabaso MCA Hamza Yusuf, who was one of Changawa’s chief agents, accused some political bigwigs in Kilifi County of trying to influence the voting and told them that the people of Dabaso would not allow anybody to choose leaders for them.
His sentiments were echoed by Changawa’s supporters Silas Mwangade, Sylvia Adhiambo, Safari Paul Katana and Philip Majengo, who said they would do everything possible to lock out the ODM party from future elections in the ward.
By Emmanuel Masha