DP William Ruto has asked DCI George Kinoti to quickly complete investigations into the Sh39 billion arms scandal alleged to involve former Sports CS Rashid Echesa.
Through his spokesman David Mugonyi, Ruto said his office, Harambee House Annex, was cooperating with detectives.
Ruto, who had earlier termed the matter a smear campaign against him, is now keen to ensure the matter is thoroughly investigated.
“The Deputy President considers this a very serious matter involving a government office and being an issue that has recurred in many such offices, wants investigations expedited devoid of political and media propaganda,” Mugonyi said.
Ruto spoke on the day the directors of an American firm were taken to Harambee House Annex offices to identify staff who facilitated their meeting with Echesa.
Sleuths from the Directorate of Criminal Investigations’ Special Crimes Unit took two directors of Eco Advanced Technologies to the DP’s office where an identification parade was conducted.
The directors of the US and Polish-based arms firm have alleged that they were conned of Sh11.5 million by Echesa, as facilitation fee, in the promise that he would help them secure a lucrative Sh39.5 billion military tender.
Detectives believe Achesa used Ruto’s powerful office to win the confidence of his targets and to give legitimacy to the fraud.
However, his associates in the DP’s office remain unknown.
DCI officers spent the better part of yesterday reviewing CCTV footage and interviewing staff and security personnel at Ruto’s office, the scene of the crime of a mega scandal involving a fake military tender in which foreigners were allegedly swindled Sh11.5 million.
DCI boss Kinoti said his officers were still gathering evidence, even as former Cabinet Secretary Rashid Echesa and three others were charged over the Sh39 billion scandal that has shocked the nation.
Yesterday, the Defence Ministry denied involvement in the scandal.
It is also alleged that Echesa forged Defence Cabinet Secretary Monica Juma’s signature to convince Echo representatives that it was a government deal.
The Defence Ministry noted that investigators and complainants visited its headquarters in Nairobi to verify the presence of the officers they met.
“During the visit, it was established that the complainants have never interacted with any official mandated to represent the Ministry of Defence,” public communications director Bogita Ongeri said in a statement.
He added,”All the documents and content displayed in the media, pertaining to the matter never originated from the Ministry of Defence.”
The ministry further noted use of an elaborate procurement process, guided by the Public Procurement and Assets Disposal Act, 2016.
Yesterday, Ruto denied that Echesa and his alleged victims made it beyond the waiting room at his Harambee Annex office.
“Echesa and his team did not meet any officer who works for the Deputy President other than the security officers manning the reception,” Ruto said.
The DP said that his chief of staff Ken Osinde, private secretary Reuben Maiyo and personal assistant Farouk Kibet were not in Harambee House Annex on the material day as alleged.
The DP admitted that Echesa, in the company of two men, walked into his office claiming that he had an appointment with him but after it was verified that he had none, the ex-CS left.
It was not clear how Echesa, without an appointment, was cleared at the reception at the ground floor with strangers and then managed to take a VIP lift to the second floor where Ruto’s office is located.
Yesterday, Ruto called for expeditious investigations devoid of politics and propaganda even as he termed the scandal a serious matter “involving a government office.”
Echesa, Daniel Otieno Omondi, Kennedy Oyoo Mboya and Clifford Okoth were yesterday arraigned at Milimani law courts where they denied charges in connection with the arms tender.
Yesterday, detectives camped at the DP’s office from as early as 8am previewing the CCT footage.
This was in a bid to establish those who accompanied Echesa and the directors into the office on February 13 when the multi-billion deal was supposed to be inked.
During the visit, the two directors are said to have positively sighted some of the staff at the DP’s office whom they said were present when they arrived and who facilitated their entry to Harambee House Annex.
The police did not reveal the identities of the people who were identified by the investors.
According to the detectives, three of the faces in the CCT cameras were of individuals working at the DP’s lavish second-floor office while one is a popular politician.
At around midday yesterday, the detectives who were in a convoy of three cars drove to the DoD’s Ulinzi House.
The detectives are keen to identify the alleged military general who met the arm dealers and who was being driven in a convoy wearing military fatigues.
Detectives handling the investigations told the Star that a preview of the CCT footage at the office of the country’s second in command had narrowed down on at least 14 people to be summoned for interrogation by DCI.
Yesterday, ODM national treasurer Timothy Bosire termed the arms deal as grave, saying the DP’s office had not only become a crime scene but a threat to national interests.
“Ruto in his right senses should resign immediately and submit to the due process of the law. Nobody should be considered indispensable especially on matters that seek to endanger the lives of Kenyans,” the ex-Kitutu Masaba MP said.
Minority Leader in the National Assembly John Mbadi said that with Ruto’s position some matters could be done by aides without his knowledge
“ In that case, he (Ruto) would have asked people in office who are connected to the fraud to step aside. Since he has not seen the need to do that and has gone forward to justify that they only took 23 minutes as if fraudsters should take even one minute, I think either he is involved or protecting the fraudsters,” Mbadi said.
On a plot to impeach Ruto, Mbadi said only a serious political party can institute a motion to remove the DP from office saying the current promoters are non-starters.
“You cannot bring a censure motion if you are not a serious political party. If someone serious can bring such a motion then it can be considered,” Mbadi said
Lugari MP Ayub Savula of ANC has threatened to come up with an impeachment motion against Ruto adding that the DP should be proved as well in the arms deal.
“The Deputy President should record a statement so that he is also investigated alongside other suspects because this involves the issue of integrity,” Savula insisted yesterday.
Former Mukurwe-ini MP Kabando wa Kabando called for a commission of inquiry to investigate corruption allegations leveled against Ruto.
He gave Ruto 14 days to step aside failure to which they will mobilize a major demonstration followed by a public rally at Uhuru Park to exert pressure for his immediate resignation.
“While the country can await actions by DCI, EACC and DPP on all other graft matters, the new arms scandal is a major security threat. The DP’s office is now a crime scene,” Kabondo said.