NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 16 – Higher Education Minister William Ruto on Saturday vowed not to resign despite the court ruling directing him to face trial in a Sh96 million fraud case.
Mr Ruto who maintained his innocence claimed that he did not receive the money as alleged and that he was not part of the transaction that saw 100 acres of land in Ngong Forest illegally sold off.
He instead claimed that the court case and Friday’s ruling by a constitutional court were engineered by his political enemies ahead of the 2012 general elections.
“I am used to these things and those who took me to court said they were doing it because of politics. I would submit myself to any discussion if in my mind I knew that I had issues to answer to. But not when people want to drug you through mud because of your political standing,” he said.
The Eldorect North MP further rubbished the provisions of the law and the new Constitution which require public officers facing court cases to step down.
“When I was appointed in September this year, the court case was in place yet there was the new Constitution, right? Plus the Constitution did not change the principle that you are innocent until proved guilty,” he argued.
However section 62 of the Anti Corruption and Economic Crimes Act stipulates that a public officer who is charged with corruption or economic crime shall be suspended with half pay with effect from the date of charge. The law also calls on the two grand coalition partners to suspend such officers until their case is determined.
Mr Ruto also claimed that his rights were being infringed upon as the case was biased. He alleged that some of those who had admitted to receiving the dirty money were allowed to walk away scot-free.
“This transaction involves 100 acres of land; what William Ruto is accused of is five acres. The 95 remaining acres went off to other people and they are not in court because they have tall fathers and do not have the background I have. Isn’t that discrimination?” he posed.
He further challenged the Kenya Anti Corruption Commission and the police to track down the beneficiaries of the money.
“That money was not paid in cash but by cheque and you know how easy it is to trace money paid by cheque. You just need to know the name or the spelling of those who allegedly received it. It is as simple as that,” he said.
According to Mr Ruto, the sale was done in 2001 but the case against the purchase was filed in 2005, something which he questioned.
“It took us four and a half years to get judges to handle this case with no less than 10 letters written by my lawyer to persuade the court to allow the case to proceed. There was inordinate delay because of the politics of the case,” he claimed.
Mr Ruto and Berke Commercial Agencies, Joshua Kulei (retired President Moi’s former aide), Baringo Central MP Sammy Mwaita and two other firms were sued for fraudulently obtaining money from the Kenya Pipeline Company (KPC) between August 6 and September 6, 2001 for the said land.
The Eldoret North MP is accused of getting the money from a former KPC manager (Hellen Njue). He moved to the High court in 2005 seeking to stop any proceedings against him claiming that his rights were being abused. The court has since thrown out his application.