, NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 11 – The blame-game between Eldoret North Member of Parliament William Ruto and the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR )took a dramatic twist on Thursday when two witnesses who gave evidence to the commission and were scheduled to testify at the ICC denounced their evidence.
William Kipkemboi Rono and Ken Braziz Wekesa told journalists they had been coached by KNCHR commissioner Hassan Omar Hassan to implicate the suspended Higher Education Minister in the post-election violence, in return for asylum abroad with their families.
Mr Rono is a resident of Eldoret North while Mr Wekesa resides in Nandi North.
When confronted with the latest development, Mr Hassan declined to comment, only saying “the commission will issue a comprehensive statement later.”
The two witnesses claimed they gave evidence to the KNCHR and the Waki-led commission that investigated the post election chaos.
They alleged that they had been staying in their rural homes until March this year when Mr Hassan approached them and offered to relocate them to Nairobi, where he put them up in fully furnished apartments in Kilimani.
It was established that both apartments go for Sh115,000 and Sh120,000 per month.
“I gave the evidence because I was coached, Hassan of the KNCHR is the one who told me to implicate Ruto in my statements, but I have decided to stop doing it because what I was doing is wrong. I realised the truth will one day come out,” Mr Rono told journalists at his three-bedroom apartment on Lenana Road.
“I have decided to move out of this house on my own volition… I realised I was not doing the right thing, because what Hassan has been telling us is wrong, it was all politics and that is why I had given all that evidence,” he added.
Mr Rono told reporters he had been receiving a monthly stipend of Sh60,000 since March.
“Every month I was getting money. Hassan was in touch with me from time to time and he repeatedly urged me to stand by my story and not withdraw my evidence against Ruto but today, I am publicly saying I have done so,” he said.
He could not however explain why he decided to go public only two days after Mr Ruto accused Mr Hassan of coaching witnesses.
On Thursday, Mr Ruto went to the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) where he recorded a statement demanding a thorough investigation by the police on the claims by the two witnesses.
“I have a made a complaint with the CID to investigate the very serious allegations about one Mr Omar Hassan who now the commission says was acting on its behalf,” the suspended Higher Education Minister told journalists outside the CID headquarters in Nairobi.
“It is really unfortunate that a commission that is supposed to look after the human rights of every Kenyan has chosen to be the body that is going to subvert the cause of justice. That a commission can hire people, rent houses for them, pay them allowances and cause them to write statements that are untrue merely to fix me or even any other person,” he added.
It was Mr Rono who directed journalists to another apartment near Chaka Place where a different ‘witness’ was allegedly being housed by the KNCHR.
Once there, journalists waited for about 20 minutes before Mr Wekesa arrived in a taxi and led us to his house.
“I have been staying here since March. I don’t own anything in this house apart from the clothes in the wardrobe. Hassan Omar of the KNCHR is the one who brought me here. I was getting Sh10,000 until May when he started giving me Sh60, 000,” Mr Wekesa claimed but did not provide any evidence to prove he was receiving the money.
“I was being paid by cash, and Hassan had promised that I will be taken to a country of my choice if I write a fresh statement to implicate Ruto strongly in the post election violence,” he added.
“In fact, Hassan had threatened to stop paying rent for this house if I did not do so. I had written an earlier statement with the commission but Hassan has been insisting that I need to write a fresh one to match what other witnesses who have been flown out of the country wrote concerning Ruto but I declined,” Mr Wekesa said.
Guards and neighbours at the apartment confirmed that Mr Wekesa was a resident there since early this year.
A caretaker of the apartment who later learnt that journalists were in one of the houses conducting an interview warned us of legal repercussions “for invading the privacy of their clients.”
“You cannot just walk in and disturb people; residents are worried thinking may be something is wrong here because of these many cameras and microphones. Yes he is one of our tenants but it does not matter,” the caretaker said.
Mr Wekesa who is a trained nurse claimed he decided to come out publicly and speak out against Mr Hassan on his own will.
“I have not been paid by anyone, I have never spoken to Ruto or any of his people about this matter. I just realised that what I am doing is not the right thing. You see… what Hassan wants me to do is to write a fresh statement about Ruto, I cannot do that,” Mr Wekesa said when pressed by journalists to reveal if he had been compromised to retract his statement.
Curiously, it was Mr Ruto’s handlers who called journalists to inform them about plans by the two witnesses to vacate the houses which were allegedly rented for them by the commission.
When asked about his relationship with Mr Ruto or his handlers regarding his latest decision, Mr Wekesa said: “I have never spoken to Ruto. I don’t talk to any of his people… I just decided to come out on my own volition to expose what Hassan has been telling us to do against Ruto.”
On Wednesday, the KNCHR chairperson Florence Jaoko came out strongly in defense of the allegations leveled against Mr Hassan, and maintained that their report which implicated Mr Ruto was above board.
Justice Minister Mutula Kilonzo has warned that witnesses who are found to have given false information in their evidence could be prosecuted for perjury (lying under oath).