NAIROBI, Kenya Feb 17 – Detectives from the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) spent the better part of Monday reviewing CCTV footage and interviewing staff and security personnel at the Deputy President’s office, the scene of crime for a mega scandal involving a fake military tender in which foreigners were swindled Sh11.5 million.
DCI boss George Kinoti confirmed that detectives from his office are still gathering evidence, even as former Cabinet Secretary Rashid Echesa and three others were charged over the Sh39billion scandal that has shocked the nation.
DP William Ruto’s Spokesman David Mugonyi said in a statement that the office located at Harambee House Annex was cooperating with detectives.
“The DCI has written to Harambee House Annex requesting for access and review of the CCTV coverage, which request was granted, and officers facilitated the review of entire footage and interview of security personnel who were on duty,” Mugonyi said.
Mugonyi said Ruto, who had termed the matter as a smear campaign at the weekend, 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.
Echesa and three of his co-accused – Daniel Otieno Omondi, Clifford Okoth Onyango, Kennedy Oyoo – were arraigned at the Milimani Law Courts on Monday, where they faced 12 counts, including obtaining money by false pretense, claiming they would facilitate a tender to supply military-grade equipment to the Kenya Defence Forces (KDF), by a company Pzels Co. Limited.
Detectives said officials of the company had told them that they were made to believe the tender was genuine and were only paying facilitation fees to Echesa and his associates.
So believable was the tender to the company, that the complainants claimed they were even taken to Ulinzi, the Department of Defence Headquarters, where they are said to have met a military ‘General’, who turned out to be an imposter.
KDF, however, dismissed the claims in a stamen on Monday, saying none of its officials was involved in the scam, and that none of the complainants visited Ulinzi House.
Ruto’s Spokesman Mugonyi, however, admits Echesa had taken two foreigners to Annex, seeking to meet Ruto, but left when they were told he was not in.
“A review of CCTV footage shows that on Thursday, February 13, between 9.39.05 am and 10.02 am (a total of 23 minutes, as per the recording), Mr Echesa in company of two men visited the Office claiming he had an appointment. Security officers manning the reception ushered him and two men in his company, to the public waiting room, as is the standard applied procedure to all visitors,” Mugonyi said.
He denied that Ruto’s aides Ken Osinde (Chief of Staff), Reuben Maiyo (Private Secretary) and Personal Assistant Farouk Kibet had met Echesa.
“They were not in Harambee House Annex on the material day as alleged by the media,” Mugonyi said.
He stated that Ruto was in fact not scheduled to work from Annex on the day. He was operating from Karen.
“On the material day, His Excellency the Deputy President was not scheduled to work from Harambee House Annex and did not visit the premises at any point,” he said.
The scandal has sparked mixed reactions from leaders, with others like Kitui Governor Charity Ngilu asking Ruto to step aside to facilitate an investigation.