Police line up staff from Ruto’s office for grilling in arms probe

Deputy President William Ruto (centre) with governors Mwangi wa Iria (Murang'a) and Wycliffe Oparanya (Kakamega) during an Intergovernmental Budget and Economic Council meeting in Karen yesterday.

Police will question between seven and 10 employees who work in the Office of the Deputy President (ODP) in investigations into a Sh39 billion fake arms deal for supply of military hardware.

Sources familiar with ongoing investigations said the staffers are alleged to have interacted with two foreign arms dealers and several suspects following a visit to the offices last Thursday. Also to be questioned are directors of a Kenyan firm that received Sh11.5 million as consultancy fees from the arms dealers.

Police are yet to disclose their identities even as detectives from the cyber-crime unit yesterday returned to the ODP in search of more video evidence of activities where the dealers claimed they signed fake documents. According to sources, the sleuths wanted to retrieve CCTV footage that showed what happened from the time the vehicles carrying former Sports Cabinet Secretary Rashid Echesa and the two foreigners arrived, and after they left.

“They want to know what happened before and after the so-called 23 minutes they were in the DP’s office last Thursday. Who did what, and why,” one source said.

Yesterday was the third time that detectives were visiting Harambee House Annex. They quizzed secretaries, orderlies and security workers, with more staff expected to be questioned in the coming days. To help in the identification process, the two arms dealers were also shown photographs of staffers in the ODP who are believed to have participated in the charade.

Police said they will charge employees who entertained Echesa and his group. “After identifying them using the photos, we will be able to conduct another physical parade and move forward.” Deputy President William Ruto urged police to speed up investigations.

“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.” This followed the arrest of Echesa and three other men after they were accused of defrauding an American and Egyptian on the pretext they would help them secure a tender to supply military hardware.

Echesa and his three co-accused – Daniel Otieno Omondi, Clifford Okoth Onyango and Kennedy Oyoo Mboya – were on Monday arraigned before Magistrate Kennedy Cheruiyot at the Milimani Law Courts. The four were accused of, among other charges, attempting to obtain Sh39.5 billion from a foreigner by falsely pretending that they would award him a State Department tender to supply military equipment.

The suspects pleaded not guilty to obtaining money by false pretences, conspiracy to commit a felony and uttering a false document. They were each released on Sh1 million cash bail. The court also rejected a plea to release two cars and two firearms belonging to Echesa.