In the case of Matiang'i versus the State... Who's fooling whom?

Fred Matiang'i

Former Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang'i in a past event.

Photo credit: File

Former Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang'i yesterday maintained in court papers that police raided his home on Wednesday night, but senior government officials denounced the reports with the Interior ministry inviting a formal complaint to open an investigation.

And Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Noordin Haji vowed to take action against the former CS for claiming that the his office and President William Ruto had a hand in the alleged raid. 

Lawyers of the former minister told reporters that the night raid could be linked to the alleged loss of Sh1.5 billion in the Ruaraka school land saga that happened nine years ago when he was the CS for Education. They also suspect that the troubles are linked to the multi-billion shilling Huduma Namba project. 

“We have information that it (the raid) could be about the Ruaraka land matter or allocation of another land. We also have information it could be about Huduma Namba. But he was not the accounting officer,” said lawyer Sam Nyaberi outside the Milimani Law Lourts in Nairobi after filing an application for Dr Matiang’i to be granted anticipatory bail.

Justice Kanyi Kimondo granted Dr Matiang’i a Sh200,000 bail, by way of a personal bond and certified the case as urgent. The judge also said that the police, DPP and the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) were at liberty to investigate any criminal conduct by Dr Matiang'i. However, they will not arrest or detain him in view of the anticipatory bail.

Dr Matiang’i sought the court’s protection on grounds that he fears that the police will execute an arbitrary arrest against him.

Though during his tenure as CS the government was accused of abusing police powers to arrest and harass politicians opposed to the then administration, Dr Matiang’i lamented the current government is misusing police to harass and intimidate him and other former CSs.

“I am living under a cloud of uncertainty as to my liberty owing to the threat of my arrest by the respondents and I am apprehensive that my constitutional rights are being violated,” he said, adding that he believes powers of the police to arrest are being abused and maliciously misused to harass, intimidate and oppress him.

Through Musyoki Mogaka & Co Advocates, the CS claimed that the scheme to have him arrested was formulated on January 30 in Mombasa. 

“I was informed that the scheme to have me arrested was formulated on 30th January 2023 on the sidelines of the 16th Annual General Meeting and Africa Prosecutors’ Association (APA) Conference held in Mombasa,” he said in an affidavit. The conference was attended by President Ruto and he met the top prosecutor on the sidelines of the forum.

But Mr Haji, who hosted the President at the regional meeting, dismissed the allegations and challenged Dr Matiang’i to produce evidence of the allegations.

“I have looked at his application in court and he has alleged that me and the President met on the sidelines in Mombasa when we had the African prosecutors’ association to plan against him. That in itself is perjury and I will take him to task. Let him table that evidence that we did that. We had several attorney-generals from all over Africa and I have evidence that nothing like that happened,” Mr Haji told NTV in an interview. “I take great exception that people are still continuing to commit perjury.”

Interior CS Kithure Kindiki also denied involvement of the police and described the alleged raiders as “unidentified persons”.

“Dr Matiangi’s lawyers and some politicians who spoke from the scene alleged that the said persons were police officers sent to arrest the former Cabinet Secretary. This allegation is utterly false. No police officer(s) or any security agent from any government institution or department was dispatched to the home of Dr Matiang’i to arrest, harass or otherwise interfere with his constitutional rights in any manner whatsoever.

“Our Country’s security agencies remain apolitical and focused on addressing the security challenges that our Nation is facing. Any person with information relating to the alleged incident at Dr Matiang’i’s home last night is advised to file a formal complaint at the nearest police station for investigations and appropriate action,” Prof Kindiki said in a statement.

In the court papers Dr Matiang’i added that for the 10 years (2013–2022) he served in the Cabinet, he didn’t have any unanswered audit queries. 

“I have never been arrested or charged in any court for any offence in relation to the exercise of my duties in the various dockets that I headed,” he said.

Apart from the Ministry of Interior, he also headed the Ministry of Information, Communication and Technology, Ministry of Lands and Physical Planning and the Ministry of Education. He was also the chairperson of the National Development Implementation and Communication Cabinet Committee.

He stated that between February 6 and 9, he received “credible information from several reliable sources and officers of the Kenya Police that there was a scheme to arbitrarily capture and arrest me with a view of arraigning me in court for ulterior political motives on trumped up charges”. The scheme was hatched in Mombasa, he alleged.

“True to their words, on the afternoon of the February 9, 2023, my family home in Karen was raided, surrounded and cordoned off by police officers who were seeking to arrest me,” Dr Matiang’i stated in the affidavit.

The police officers, he alleged, barricaded the entry to the house and only retreated after the media and his advocates arrived and the information of the alleged impending arrest went viral on social media platforms.

Stating that he has never been summoned to appear at any police station or investigative agency, Dr Matiang’i said that no arrest warrants have ever been against him.

“I am at a loss as to why the police officers are seeking to arrest me,” he said while pointing an accusing finger at the EACC.

“Through a confidential source, I was reliably informed that the EACC had also received instructions between February 6 and 9, 2023 to open a criminal file and charge me with trumped up charges of abuse of office,” he said.

But as the drama unfolded on Wednesday night, EACC chief executive Twalib Mbarak told the Nation: “We are not the ones. EACC is not in Dr Matiangi’s residence.”

Inspector-General of Police Japhet Koome also refuted police had a role in the incident.

“We clarify no police officers under the National Police Service (NPS) has been sent to former CS Matiang’i residence at all,” he stated.

Dr Matiang’i further claimed that based on the information he had received, the timing of the alleged arrest was designed to ensure that he fails to attend the funeral and burial service of his Cabinet colleague Prof George Magoha in Gem, Siaya County tomorrow.

The former CS stated that his woes got worse when he gave a speech at the home of Prof Magoha where he shared lessons on public service that he had learnt from his late colleague.

“My security detail was withdrawn the next day after the visit and the impending arrest is part of the wider scheme to harass and silence me forever. The Inspector-General has already demonstrated malicious intent by abusing due process as evidenced by the reduction and withdrawal of the security officers assigned to me on February 2, 2023, thereby exposing me to harm despite the sensitive nature of my last post as Cabinet Secretary for security matters,” said Dr Matiang’i in the court papers.

Describing himself as a “law-abiding citizen”, Dr Matinag’i said he is ready and willing to submit himself to a just and fair legal process in which his fundamental rights and freedoms are respected and protected in the event he is required for questioning or investigations by the authorities.

He sued six national government institutions including the Directorate of Criminal Investigations, Inspector-General of the National Police Service, DPP and EACC. Also sued is the Independent Police Oversight Authority and National Police Service Commission. The Kenya National Commission on Human Rights and the Law Society of Kenya are listed as interested parties.

The application is pending hearing. 

“I firmly believe that the belated efforts by the respondents to harass, intimidate and/or embarrass me is connected with my dutiful execution of my professional mandate in the previous regime of government and/or my association with people who are seen as ‘the enemies’ of the current regime,” he stated.

Outside the court, Dr Matiang’i’s lawyers said that they got a distress call from the former CS on Wednesday night saying elite police officers had surrounded his home.

“He had prior knowledge of an impending arrest. On arrival, we found the police had left,” said the lawyers.

Lawyer Danstan Omari disputed a statement by Mr Koome that the persons who allegedly attempted to raid the CS’s home are not police officers.

“Why did the National Police Service fail to deploy officers to find out about the raid if indeed the raiders were not police officers?” asked Mr Omari. “There seems to be a choreographed attack on former Cabinet secretaries. We will seek instructions to seek anticipatory bail for all of them.”