What you need to know:
- As a Category One VVIP, the Deputy President is entitled to security from the G Company and Recce.
- Change of guard effected at the Deputy President's official Karen residence and his private homes.
The public fallout between President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto went a notch higher yesterday after the State downgraded the DP’s security by withdrawing elite General Service Unit (GSU) officers guarding his residences.
The change of guard was effected simultaneously yesterday afternoon at the DP’s official Karen residence and his private homes in Karen, Nairobi and Sugoi, Eldoret.
The move raised an uproar from DP Ruto’s political allies, who claimed the State was denying him his legal entitlement.
The National Police Service however said the replacement of the GSU officers with those from the Administration Police was a “normal re-assignment to enhance efficiency.”
As a category one VVIP, the Deputy President is entitled to security from the same elite guards as his boss. Both of them are supposed to be guarded by the G Company and the Recce Company, which are elite platoons from the GSU whose members are carefully selected to form the Presidential Security Unit.
Also in this unit is the Presidential Escort Unit (PEU) under former Recce Company commandant Josephat Mbuthia Kirimi, whose job is to offer close protection to the President and his Deputy whenever they are on the move.
The job of this unified unit, whose members receive the best training both in the country and abroad, is to provide security specifically to the President, the first family, the Deputy President, retired presidents, visiting heads of State and any other roles that are directed by the Inspector General.
Caught by surprise
The roles of these elite units are so specific and unique that they are listed in the Police Standing Orders.
“The Commandant of the General Service Unit shall be responsible for security to the President, the Deputy President, State Houses and Lodges,” says Chapter 8, Section 5(e) of the Police Standing Orders.
Yesterday afternoon, however, officers from the Security of Government Buildings Unit (SGB) within the Administration Police were simultaneously sent to all the DP’s residences. Their mission? To replace the elite GSU officers who have been guarding those premises.
Formed in 1977, SGB is specifically mandated to provide security to government buildings, installations and institutions. The unit is sometimes deployed provide residence security to those who qualify, escort cash and offer close protection. It is, however, several notches below Recce and G Company in terms of training.
“Today, August 26, 2021; the Security of Government Buildings Unit (SGB) has been deployed to provide general security to the residence of His Excellency the Deputy President from the General Service Unit (GSU),” said the new police spokesman, Bruno Shioso.
“This is normal re-assignment of duties within the National Police Service to enhance efficiency and effectiveness. The Presidential Escort Unit continues to provide close protection to the Deputy President,” said Mr Shioso.
The move to change the DP’s protection structure appears to have caught the GSU officers who were guarding the gates by surprise as one of them had earlier in the day said that he was not aware they were being transferred.
DP’s personal security
DP Ruto’s spokesman, David Mugonyi, however said that the deputy president was informed of the impending change of guard early yesterday morning.
“The office of the Deputy President has formally written to the Inspector General of Police seeking an official explanation on this matter and the reasons for the breach of security,” said Mr Mugonyi.
“This is the latest instalment in a sustained and systematic effort to undermine the DP’s personal security in pursuit of political vendetta, and is consistent with a strategy to expose the Deputy President of the republic to personal harm,” said the DP’s spokesman.
The DP’s official residence in Karen was the first to undergo the change of guard. At 3:22pm yesterday, a pick-up truck and a van belonging to the PP SGB arrived at the main gate. In the two vehicles were 12 SGB officers, led by Chief Inspector JK Ngeno.
There was a brief tense moment after GSU officers at the gate hesitated to let the new team in. A senior GSU officer arrived at the gate almost five minutes later before SGB were let in. They were then taken round the property, before officially taking over.
All this time DP Ruto was inside the premises meeting leaders from Nyeri led by Mathira MP, Rigathi Gachagua. He later released a statement praising his proposed “bottom-up” economic model that forms the fulcrum of his presidential campaign, while steering clear of the security matter.
“The revolutionary bottom-up economic model will be implemented with energy, focus and resources as other Government development projects. This will ensure that we swiftly transform the lives of millions of Kenyans who have been struggling to make ends meet,” said the DP.
Similar changes also took place at Sugoi and at the DP’s private residence at Karen Hardy.
In Sugoi, the DP’s neighbours told the Nation that it felt different to have the AP officers instead of the GSU they had been used to.
"When I passed here around lunch time, I saw the GSU but when I was coming back in the afternoon, they had gone," said Mr Cornelius Bor.
Another resident told the Nation that he spotted a green lorry entering the compound yesterday afternoon.
“I saw a green GSU lorry leaving the (Sugoi) home at around 2pm and immediately I noticed that those who have been guarding the home had been changed. As neighbours of the deputy president we are dumbfounded by what has transpired,” said Christine Maiyo.
Although the DP was yet to officially comment on the matter by last evening, his political allies who rushed to Karen in solidarity immediately read mischief in the move.
“It is political pettiness and machinations of the criminal enterprise based at Office of the President to withdraw the DP’s security against the law so as to force unrest and justify postponement of the elections,” claimed Kikuyu MP Kimani Ichungwa.
Additional reporting by Onyango K’onyango