Detectives tighten the noose on Ruto’s office over Echesa’s fake tender

By Zadock Angira On Tue, 18 Feb, 2020 08:58 | 4 mins read

One of the investors targetted in the Sh39 billion fake military hardware tender scandal on Monday led police to the office of the Deputy President William Ruto where he identified some of the officials and offices where they met.

The police officer from the Serious Crimes Unit accompanied Mr. Mamdouh Amir to Harambee House Annex at about 9.40 am where he reconstructed how they accessed the well-protected building’s second floor in the company of former Sports ministry boss Rashid Echesa and two other men.

The events were reconstructed as the DP issued a statement denying that he had an appointment with Mr. Echesa and his team.

DP Ruto insisted that never stepped in his office at Harambee House Annex on Thursday last week when the former Sports Cabinet secretary visited.

“The Deputy President was not at the office as he was working from his Karen one before he left to attend a funeral in Murang’a. On checking his diary, there was no such appointment,” the Dr Ruto’s Secretary of Communication David Mugonyi said.

He added: “The Office of the Deputy President is a public office which by operation receives visitors and access to the premises is subject to strict security protocols that apply to government installations in that category. Anyone who accesses the ODP is duly documented and proper records of the particulars of all visits including CCTV footage taken.”

The Department of Defence also issued a statement saying the alleged tender documents in possession of detectives investigating the scam, and which have been given to the media, never originated from the Department of Defence (DoD).

The DoD Director of Public Communication Bogita Ongeri said it had been established that the complainants had never interacted with any official mandated to represent the Ministry of Defence.

“Investigators and complainants in the matter visited (Ulinzi House) the Ministry of Defence headquarters to ascertain the offices they allegedly accessed,” Ongeri said.

“In this regard, the ministry distances itself from the alleged involvement in the fake arms procurement scam,” he added.

“The Ministry of Defence wishes to reiterate that we have an elaborate procurement process and structures that ensure transparency and accountability of any procurement process as guided by the Public Procurement and Assets Disposal Act (2016). The Ministry of Defence is very concerned that a session of the media are creating a narrative that is scandalous and libelous in spite of what is clearly a fraudulent and criminal act. The Ministry of Defence intends to seek redress for this matter,” the statement read in part.

Earlier on Monday, a team of detectives visited Ulinzi House, the DoD headquarters, as they tried to reconstruct the scene where the foreigners were reportedly taken to.

Another visit to the Kenyatta International Convention Centre (KICC) did not yield much as the foreigners could not identify the floor they were taken to.

“They were picked from the ground floor of the KICC by some security personnel but they could not remember the floor. The host was a female politician,” one of the detectives said.

At Ruto’s office, detectives reviewed CCTV cameras and took away the footage.

They also interrogated officials who handled the visitors last week for hours.

The team, led by the head of Serious Crimes Unit Obadiah Kuria, however, declined to comment on the investigations.

All this was taking place as Echesa was formally charged in a Nairobi court with 12 counts relating to the alleged fraud.

On Monday, detectives continued with the investigations in a bid to establish how the whole scheme was executed.

According to the detectives, the suspects drove to the Harambee House Annex with the two foreigners last Thursday morning in a Range Rover.

From the parking lot, the foreigners were taken to the lift lobby, without being screened.

They took the VIP lift to the second floor where the DP’s office is located.

They went past the security detail, the DP’s personal assistant and the secretary’s office as they proceeded to the boardroom.

They were then served tea as they waited for the “Deputy President” who was to witness the signing of the contract documents.

They, however, did not manage to meet him. But Ruto’s statement denying that Echesa and the two investors accessed his boardroom, contradicted the explanation given by the visitors who said they were taken to his board room where they signed documents on the deal.

The brief from Ruto’s office yesterday indicated that Echesa and the two foreigners went to DP’s office on Thursday at 9.39.05am and left at 10.02 am.

Echesa had claimed that he had an appointment with the DP and the security officers manning the reception ushered him and the two men to the public waiting room.

Ruto’s spokesman Mugonyi said the DCI had written to Harambee House Annex requesting access and review of the CCTV footage, which request was granted and officers facilitated the review of the entire footage and interview of the security personnel who were on duty.

He said that on the material day, the DP was not scheduled to work from Harambee House Annex and did not visit the premises at any point “The Deputy President was not scheduled to meet with the former Cabinet Secretary, neither did Echesa have any appointment,” he said.

He further said Echesa and his team did not meet any officer who works for the Deputy President other than security officers manning the reception.

“Chief of Staff Ken Osinde, Private Secretary Reuben Maiyo and personal assistant Farouk Kibet were not in Harambee House Annex on the material day as alleged by the media,” Mugonyi said.

He added that Echesa and the foreigners did not access any other office other than the public waiting room. “When he was told that the Deputy President was not in, Echesa and the two men left.”

Mugonyi said the office of the Deputy President “does not procure goods and services for any State department or entities, neither does it provide legal, technical or facilitative services for signing agreements, let alone in its public waiting room.”

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