Six days to the polls, police last night were investigating the torture murder of electoral agency ICT manager Chris Msando, who held sensitive information on servers and infrastructure.
The motive was not immediately known.
His death — first reported exclusively by the Star — has shaken the commission, which yesterday had to postpone testing the results transmission system.
The Star also was the first to report in detail Msando’s movements before his death.
IEBC Chairman Wafula Chebukati yesterday demanded answers from the government.
Msando was one of the few people who knew the location of IEBC servers and he had reported to Central police station that he had received death threats involving his work.
Msando was at the centre of the electoral agency’s technology infrastructure, including the Kenya Integrated Elections Management Systems to be deployed for the first time.
He was head of data centre support and elections and infrastructure — one of the few who knew intricate details of ICT servers, their locations and passwords.
The servers include one for the 292 constituencies, including diaspora and prisons, the server for counties, the National Tallying Centre and the IEBC national office.
The US and the UK yesterday expressed “grave concern” over Msando’s murder and extended condolence.
“It is critical Kenya have free, fair, credible and peaceful elections on August 8, and protection for IEBC staff is essential to achieving this goal. We welcome the Government of Kenya’s commitment to investigating the murder. We have offered our assistance in the investigation,” said the joint statement by US Ambassador Robert Godec and UK High Commissioner Nic Hailey.
Msando went missing on Friday night and his body was found at city mortuary yesterday. It had been dumped in Kikuyu Forest.
He appeared to have been tortured and strangled, his left hand and fingers were broken. The back of his head was swollen, as though he had been struck with a blunt object.
The naked body was booked at the city mortuary at 11.20 am on Saturday. The body of a woman, apparently a companion identified only as Shiru, was brought in at 12.20 pm. The bodies were recovered five metres apart on the same day.
“The government must tell Kenyans who killed Msando and why,” Chebukati told journalists at the morgue. “… there is no doubt Msando was tortured and then murdered…who killed him and why did they kill him? That question must be answered.”
A visibly shaken Chebukati demanded the government provide security for all IEBC officials before the General Election election next Tuesday.
“…the state must assure us that all IEBC employees are safe,” he said. “We are working with police to ensure the killers are brought to book.”
“Chris Msando was instrumental in the new integrated electronic management system. His death should be treated as premeditated murder,” Makueni Senator Mutula Kilonzo said.
In earlier interview, Msando who joined IEBC in 2016, said it would not be possible to hack the IEBC systems and that the technology would not fail.
“We have used the highest level of encryption, so no third parties can intercept and decrypt the messages transmitted,” he told Citizen TV last month.
According to the police, there was no sign of blood or struggle where the body was found. He was probably killed elsewhere and the body dumped in Kikuyu.
Police said they were called yesterday morning and informed about his Land Rover Discovery near Thika Road Mall. It had been locked and appeared to have been there a while.
Police told the Star that CCTV cameras captured Msando’s car thrice. Footage shows him leaving his Anniversary Towers office at 20.50 last Friday.
The vehicle was seen again at Pangani Ring Road at 2.49 Saturday, 11 minutes before Msando sent an SMS to a colleague.
The vehicle is seen joining Thika Road, then it disappeared.
Watchmen at the flats behind Safari Park told police Msando drove into the compound at .11am Saturday, with a woman.
They parked outside and entered a house.
The watchmen did not know which house. They said there was no one else in the car.
The two did not leave the house, police sources aid.
On Saturday, 11.20, police in Kikuyu received information about the naked body of a man found in the bush. They collected the body and drove to city mortuary.
Minutes later, the body of a woman was found five metres from Msando’s body.
Police wait for return of the vehicle that had transported the man’s body. They loaded the woman’s body that was booked at the mortuary at 12.20 pm on Saturday.
Msando and his wife Eve Auma spoke at least thrice on the phone last Friday.
Their last communication was at 11.18pm when Msando called to say he was heading home, according to the police investigators.
They agreed that once Msando reached home, he would call his wife and not ring the bell, to avoid waking their young children.
The wife told police Msando did not come home on Friday and after his phones went unanswered she got worried.
On Sunday at 8.30am she reported him missing, at Embakasi police station.
In a statement to newsrooms yesterday, NASA said, “Chris Msando’s brutal killing was an attempt to drive a dagger into the heart of the forthcoming election, and indeed a dagger into the heart of Kenyan democracy. But we are totally confident his terrible crime will accomplish the opposite and strengthen all Kenyans’ will to demand a free, fair and credible election,” principal Musalia Mudavadi said.
Gatundu South MP Moses Kuria yesterday pulled down a controversial Facebook update moments after Msando’s body was found.
In the morning, Kuria had posted a photo of him standing by a car he said was Msando’s. He said Msando was “enjoying himself with a lady”.
“So this is Chris Msando’s vehicle right now in Roysambu. The idiot is enjoying sweet time with a woman. And the story was that he was privy to ‘rigging’ and he can’t be found. Verily, verily I say unto to you, Raila. You will not burn this country. Not when I’m alive,” Kuria wrote. (see below)
Immediately after he pulled down the update, the public took to social media, demanding he record a police statement.