Nubian Community Testify on How Huduma Number Will Marginalise Them

Nubian Community Testify on How Huduma Will Marginalise Them

Anand Venkatanatayanan, an expert in cyber security, having a conversation with Counsel Waikwa Wanyoike on Wednesday at the Milimani High Court.

Three members of the Nubian Community through its Nubian Rights Forum will testify before the Kenyan High Court to show how they will ‘suffer significant discrimination’ if the Huduma Number system is implemented as proposed by the government. 

The National Integrated Identity Management System (NIIMS) is popularly known as the Huduma Number. The NIIMS is intended to be a single repository of personal information of all Kenyans as well as foreigners resident in Kenya.

The hearing was heard before a three-judge bench composed of Justices Weldon Korir, Mumbi Ngugi and Pauline Nyamweya. 

Counsel Waikwa Wanyoike, representing the petitioners  says, “For a long time, the government has consistently refused or denied members of the community identification documents which would designate them as Kenyans even though they are Kenyans.”

According to Wanyoike, the community has suffered arbitrary refusal because their parents would have identification cards or their grandparents were never given or vice versa. “If the system is implemented as proposed when the government itself has not issued identity cards to all the Nubian members, it means they will be captured in the system as non-citizens and it would be extremely difficult to change that.”

Nubian Community Testify on How Huduma Number Will Marginalise Them
A section of the Members of the Nubian Community following court proceedings in the Huduma Namba petition.

The three, Mr. Khalil Kafe (72), Mr.Shaffy Ali, chief executive Nubian Rights Organisation and Ms. Fatuma Abdulrahman, during the cross-examination from the Government’s lawyers, they said the most members from the Nubian Community have found it difficult to obtain documents that enable them to have identity cards.

Kafe said he was issued with his first ID card in 1962 but ever since it got lost, he has found it difficult to get a replacement.

Shaffy, on the other hand, said challenges the community is facing needs to be solved first before the implementation of the NIMS and that the problems have existed before.

“The Government cannot vet a specific community and leave the rest of the Kenyans. It is their constitutional right that the Government should do everything equitably… everyone equal before the law,” he told the court. “My problem with NIIMS is that most of my community and not just my community, but all minorities in the Republic of Kenya will be left out.”

Abdulrahman, on the other hand, told the court that problems for the Nubian community start at the age of 18 when they start chasing their identity documents with little government support.

She also explained how the Kenyan Government was found to be in violation of the rights of Nubian children when it denied them citizenship by the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child.

The Government experts also testified before the court on why the state needs the system. In its opening statements, it insisted that the implementation of the NIIMS is a deliberate and planned effort to deliver services to the citizens.

The Government also acknowledged its shortcomings and said they will take the necessary mitigating measures. It also clarified that what it is doing is the consolidation of information and digitization was the way to go.  “Digitization of government records is the way to go, not just in Kenya but globally. That trend is indeed irreversible, nobody wants to go to the paper age, and Kenya cannot be expected to be held back.”

On Tuesday, Anand Venkatanatayanan a specialist in cybersecurity and computer fraud forensic analysis claimed that there was no guarantee that the system used for the KSh6 billion Huduma Namba was going to work.

“NIIMS is an archaic design compared to modern-day system architectures and can be thought of a horse-bungee drawn by a lame horse on the digital highway. That it would fail and would fall behind is the foregone conclusion,” he testified.

The petitioners in the case, The Nubian Rights Forum, the Kenya Human Rights Commission, and the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights.