At the imposing Harambee House Annex, the office of Deputy President William Ruto, hawk-eyed sentries keep vigil. From clearance by uniformed officers to plainclothes police, entering the DP’s office is no walk in the park.
Right from the two gates, a police pass is mandatory. A more rigorous questioning is at the reception. You either have an appointment or you will be sternly turned away.
But even tougher is getting to the red-carpeted second floor and where Ruto’s swanky office is located.
It’s a no-go zone even for staff, unless their services are required.
However, on Thursday last week, former Sports Cabinet Secretary Rashid Achesa, in the company of two foreigners, easily walked intoHarambee House Annex.
The foreigners were immediately ushered into the VIP boardroom, not far from Ruto’s office, as Echesa paced up and down the corridors of power.
Who hosted Echesa and his guests in the second-highest-ranking office in the country remains a puzzle as police probe what is one appears one of the country’s most audacious and biggest scams, a military deal.
There is no evidence Ruto was involved or knowledgeable about the goings-on.
For the first time on Sunday, Ruto admitted that Echesa and his alleged victims indeed visited his office but only for 23 minutes.
Ruto appeared to turn the blame on other government offices and suggested the scammers could have also visited the Ministry of Defence.
Echesa was arrested shortly after leaving Ruto’s office and spent the weekend in police custody. He will be released today on Sh1 million cash bail once investigations are complete.
Yesterday, Ruto came under a barrage of attacks over claims his office is at the heart of a fake Sh39 billion military deal.
A section of political leaders began agitating for Ruto to step aside, claiming that his office had become a citadel of graft, in what is likely to trigger more political fireworks.
Police also are investigating claims that agents of the military equipment supplier Eco Advanced Technologies had previously been hosted by Echesa at the DP’s office.
Kitui Governor Charity Ngilu said in a press statement to newsrooms that Ruto had betrayed the trust of 47 million Kenyans by engaging in a fake arms deal.
She said Ruto whose office is part of the presidency, alongside that of President Uhuru Kenyatta, had put the high office to shame.
“This happening in an office that should be beyond reproach is certainly putting the country, the presidency to shame, ridicule and has now gone beyond acceptable limits,” Ngilu said.
“The Deputy President should stop hoodwinking Kenyans through tweets and do the honourable thing, step aside and let investigations be conducted in an impartial environment, said the former CS for lands, housing, urban development, water and health.
The renewed pressure on the DP to quit comes at a time when his political adversaries have been mulling an impeachment motion against him for allegedly trying to sabotage the president.
Ngilu said it was not the first time Ruto’s office was being turned into a haven for irregular behaviour.
“Stephen Ngei Musyoka, proprietor of Makindu Motors, is a living victim of these mafia-like schemes that take place at the DP’s office. In 2018, in a similar run-in with conmen operating from Dr Ruto’s office, Mr Musyoka supplied 2,800 laptops worth Sh200 million. To date Mr Musyoka has never been paid,” Ngilu said.
“ODP (Office of the Deputy President) does not procure for any ministry/department. Question: Other than 23min in Annex, for months, which government offices involved in the ‘tender’ did the scammers visit? Did they access DoD? Who facilitated? Who did they meet? Get the truth. Forget the sponsored nonsense in media,” Ruto tweeted as pressure mounted.
On Saturday morning, he claimed the fraud link to his office was a smear campaign by his political rivals.
“The desperation of my political competitors on their choreographed smear campaign against William Ruto is evident even for fools (of whom we have no shortage) to see,” he tweeted.
But former Senator Paul Njoroge Ben said Uhuru should himself spearhead Ruto’s removal from office.
Njoroge also said the President should give immediate directives for Ruto to be summoned and questioned by DCI detectives to get to the bottom of the fraud.
According to the ex-Jubilee nominated senator, the fake multi-billion deal was meant to fund Ruto’s 2022 presidential campaign and the parallel BBI rallies.
“It should also be remembered there are other mega scandals surrounding Ruto such as the NYS scandal, the Kimwarer Dam scandal and the maize scandal, among others, as he uses these stolen monies to finance his premature 2022 presidential campaigns,” Njoroge told the press.
On Saturday, Siaya Senator James Orengo said Ruto’s office had become a crime scene.
“He [Ruto] must tell us what he knows about this matter to redeem himself and the office he occupies,” Orengo stated.
Police investigators who spoke to the Star said the modus operandi of the cartels is luring wealthy businessmen with fake ‘restricted’ tenders.
The contract documents are complete with government letterheads.
To appear more credible, the crooks present a picture of men and women who have it all.
They drive new luxury cars, wear designer suits costing several thousand dollars and live in palatial homes in high-end neighbourhoods.
They ooze money and influence and they are well-connected in the corridors of power.
Apart from hotel meetings, some sessions are held in government offices to gain the confidence of their targets and to give legitimacy to the fraud.
In the Echesa case, there is said to be a mysterious ‘military general’ who was coordinating the technical aspects of the deal.
He is said to have had bodyguards and escorts whenever he met the potential fraud victims in Lavington and at a restaurant in Hemingways Hotel.