Fallout in Ruto camp over Kenyatta's Northlands farm invasion

Some of the Individuals who invaded part of the Kenyatta family-owned Northlands City and stole livestock

Some of the Individuals who invaded part of the Kenyatta family-owned Northlands City and stole livestock on March 27, 2023. The invaders forced their way into Northlands through a fence in the Kamakis area along the Eastern Bypass. 

Photo credit: Dennis Onsongo | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • There are those in the government calling for action on Kenyatta land invaders and those celebrating attack.

On the eve of the third day of planned opposition protests, Interior Cabinet Secretary Kithure Kindiki, whose studious silence had triggered anxiety among Kenyans, emerged with a tough edict.

The CS sounded a warning in a tough statement, putting all violent protesters on notice that he will stop at nothing to protect lives and property as enshrined in the Constitution, even as he documented the trail of destruction witnessed since the protests started a fortnight ago.

According to Prof Kindiki, two civilians have been killed during the Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Coalition Party protests, while 51 police officers and 85 civilians have been injured. 

“Ethnically-laced arson was executed in the Kibra suburb of Nairobi, while a church and a mosque were burnt down before the police rushed in to quell the clashes.

"Journalists were robbed and attacked by knife-wielding gangs as they covered the protests,” he said. Henceforth, the CS said, violent protests will stand banned. He vowed to use force to ensure the safety of Kenyans.

“No more violent protests shall be allowed anywhere in Kenya. With or without notices, demonstrations and protests of any type which injures people, security officers, businesses and property shall be prevented at all costs,” the CS said. 

He also outlawed Azimio leader Raila Odinga’s Movement for Defence of Democracy (MDD) plan to don uniforms, saying it breaches the Public Order law. “Those wearing such uniforms, dresses or emblems must cease and desist immediately. I shall be issuing policy directives to the IG [Inspector-General of Police], which directives shall take effect on March 31, 2023,” said the CS.

In defence of the National Police Service, which has come under sharp criticism, Prof Kindiki promised to give directions on specific measures the police will take to ensure public safety during demonstrations.

The CS pledged to outline plans to enhance security for all Kenyans and foreigners lawfully in Kenya, protect private property, hold to account all persons responsible and provide round-the-clock security to all streets, estates and neighbourhoods in Nairobi, Kisumu and other places.

The statement by Prof Kindiki comes amid reports that the invasion of retired President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Northlands City property on Monday has exposed cracks in President William Ruto’s camp, with the moderates questioning police inaction and the bravado exhibited by some leaders, now seen as celebrating the attack. 

The Ruto camp, Nation understands, is split between those demanding urgent and decisive action on the attack on Mr Kenyatta’s farm and those arguing that the former Head of State should not be treated any differently from Kenyans who have lost property in the protests.

Mr Kenyatta, who has not publicly spoken about the attack on his family’s farm, is reported to have vowed to deal with matter legally.

“The intruders cut the electric fence, yet the distress call to the nearby police post was not responded to. This means the invasion was well planned and coordinated,” disclosed a source close to the former President’s family.

There are also questions surrounding Prof Kindiki, who had, before last evening, adopted a studious silence since a public statement on Sunday and a tweet on Monday evening, even as eyebrows were raised with the hard-hitting statement by his Information counterpart Eliud Owalo saying his was “the position of [the] government.”

There was confusion when a top official shared Mr Owalo’s statement with Nation then retracted it.

This, even as it was reported yesterday that Prof Kindiki’s silence came after he opposed calls for security officers to be unusually brutal with protesters and for officers to ignore distress calls from certain quarters in the Monday protests. 

There are also claims that a plan to shut down the internet during the Monday protests was opposed by President Ruto, who questioned the wisdom of it.

Tellingly, President Ruto’s speech in Berlin, Germany citing the financial and operational independence of the police service and IG Japhet Koome, placed responsibility over the chaos — and therefore the need, requirement and consequences of quelling it —on the IG’s lap.

Insiders now say heads are expected to roll as the President jets back into the country this evening from his four-day official tour of Germany and Belgium.

“The President is not happy with the happenings back home,” disclosed a close ally of Dr Ruto. Meanwhile, MPs from the Rift Valley, keen to ensure non-escalation of the matter, are planning a meeting to review the latest development.

Already, the senator of Dr Ruto’s home county of Uasin Gishu, Mr Jackson Mandago, has sounded a warning, putting Mr Koome on notice and promising to summon him to Parliament and even sponsor an impeachment motion for his handling of the Monday protests.

Close confidants say Dr Ruto has promised to address the protests issue once he returns from his trip, which he confirmed when he engaged Kenyans in Berlin.

“As President, I will ensure everyone’s property, business, hustle and lives of Kenyans are protected. It is the duty of police service to execute their mandate and mine is to provide resources and policies in accordance with law,” Dr Ruto told Kenyans living in Germany.

The Head of State recalled his promise of non-interference with institutions like the police, citing the move to give the service full financial independence, complete with an accounting officer domiciled at Vigilance House.

As the blame game between the State and the opposition on who was responsible for the Kenyatta farm attack rages on, the directive by Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Noordin Haji demanding investigations into the Monday protests has added fuel to the fire.

“You are hereby directed to undertake comprehensive investigations into the aforementioned offences and all persons responsible for planning, inciting, instigating and/or financing the commission of any offence and submit the investigation file within 14 days hereof,” said Mr Haji.

The deployment of officers to Northlands City, more than 24 hours after a raid in which goons allocated themselves 50 feet by 50 feet plots and also erected a structure using iron sheets, has irked Azimio leaders, who have demanded action and placed responsibility on President Ruto and his deputy Rigathi Gachagua.

The government has come under sharp criticism from various quarters, including the Church and civil society groups on the manner the attacks at Northlands City, Mr Odinga’s East Africa Spectre and Kibra were handled. In a terse statement, Mr Owalo stressed that all Kenyans, whether rich or poor, were equal before the law.

“The government deployed heavy machinery with the CBD [central business district] to ensure there is adequate security. It’s unfortunate that some hooligans took advantage to invade the former President’s farm. It is regrettable but the same should apply to smaller traders downtown, River Road,” said the CS.

He added that action by police to seal off the city centre to keep protesters at bay had averted a confrontation with traders who were ready to defend their businesses.

That Mr Owalo addressed the presser, which appeared to go well beyond the purview of his ministry, had also served to bring focus on the whereabouts of Prof Kindiki.

On Monday, Prof Kindiki was busy assigning his three chief administrative secretaries departmental roles as the country went up in flames, and has since been faulted over the Northlands City invasion and the Kibra attacks.

A photo of Mr Gachagua meeting with top security officials, which was attended by Interior Principal Secretary Raymond Omollo, ahead of the Monday protests, was deleted from social media platforms on Tuesday.

The Nation has been informed by those privy to the goings on that top officials held three meetings in Karen, Nairobi, and another with a leaner team at a residential apartment in Kileleshwa, Nairobi.

On Monday evening, Prof Kindiki, who was not in the meeting, made a post on social media calling for calm. “We must protect our country from sliding into irretrievable anarchy,” Prof Kindiki said.

It also emerged that a vehicle that was trailing Mr Odinga’s convoy, which the Azimio brigade had complained about, had a team of officers allegedly deployed to ensure Mr Odinga’s safety. Mr Odinga’s convoy on Monday snaked through city roads towards Karen, where his team posted on social media that a vehicle was trailing him.

Meanwhile, on Tuesday, some 22 police officers mainly from Central, Western and Eastern regions are reported to have been questioned at the Directorate of Criminal Investigations over what was termed as breach of confidential operational matters in tackling the Azimio protests.

“Our officers were called in for questioning to establish how the Azimio leadership were up to speed with the government’s plans. Are we supposed to talk to only those in government?” asked one officer.