What you need to know:
- Mr Ruto claimed the fake arms deal whose investigation is believed to have led to the death of Sgt Kenei was part of a wider scheme by the deep state to scandalise him.
Deputy President William Ruto Saturday staged the most audacious attack yet on the Directorate of Criminal Investigations, accusing it of being used for political reasons “to discredit and destroy” him and being part of a wider plot to assassinate his character.
Speaking during the emotionally charged burial of slain police officer Kipyegon Kenei in Nakuru, Mr Ruto claimed the fake arms deal whose investigation is believed to have led to the death of Sgt Kenei was part of a wider scheme by the deep state to scandalise him.
By virtue of his position as deputy president, Mr Ruto sits in the National Security Council, and the claim that security agencies were being used by political operatives to disgrace him indicates either a state of mistrust within the council, or his lack of faith in it.
Either way, his statements could be interpreted to mean he does not believe that the highest security organ in the country is impartial and professional.
“We want to know who killed Sgt Kenei, when, why and how,” Mr Ruto said. “It is unfortunate that this young man had to pay the ultimate price in the entire scheme meant to undermine my office, but I want to assure you that those who killed him will never know peace. And they will be known,” he said.
Sgt Kenei, who worked as the chief security officer at the DP’s office in Harambee House Annex, was found dead in his house in Imara Daima, Nairobi on February 20 with a single bullet wound in the head.
Initial reports indicated that he had committed suicide, but the DCI has, after preliminary investigations, reported that the Administration Police sergeant was murdered in cold blood.
Mr Ruto said that the association of the murder with his office — the DCI last Thursday played to the public surveillance video footage from Mr Ruto’s office complex that showed the unfettered movements of the main suspects in the fake Sh39 billion arms scandal — was part of “all manner of nonsense to bring me down”.
“Those in this scheme are boasting that I will not be there soon,” tweeted the DP. “Since the system cannot elect anybody, they can only kill. But there is God in heaven.”
Earlier in Nakuru, he had excited the mourners at Sgt Kenei’s burial with his no-holds-barred speech, telling his political detractors “to fight me and leave other people out of their fights”.
“They have killed Kenei because he is the one who would have told the truth about the person who brought the foreigners and fake generals to my office. Those executing this scheme to stop me are using all means. I want to tell them that they may have the system, the support and everything, but we have God and the life of this innocent Kenyan will not go in vain,” he said.
The “system” the DP kept alluding to comes from the belief that there is a shadowy network of powerful kingmakers within and around the government who do not want him to succeed President Uhuru Kenyatta in 2022. That “system”, he said without giving evidence, is plotting all manner of schemes against him.
He wondered why the signing ceremony of the fake arms deal was taken to his office and not the Department of Defense, yet there is no relationship between his office and DoD as he is not a deputy commander-in-chief.
FAKE ARMS DEAL
But in a quick rejoinder, Jubilee Party insider David Murathe, a close ally of the President, said Mr Kenyatta’s supporters would not take lying down the attempt, however feeble, to drag the President’s name into the fake arms deal.
“We take a great exception to remarks by the Deputy President that he is not a deputy commander-in-chief and so should not be drawn into the arms deal.
“He is in fact saying that DCI should investigate the OP (Office of the President) and, by extension, the President.
“There is no way Ruto can run away from the arms saga that has rocked his office. It is high time he came out to set the record straight,” said Mr Murathe.
On Mr Ruto’s claims that the system was fighting him, Mr Murathe wondered who that would be when the second in command sits in all top decision-making organs of the State.
“Isn’t he part of the system? Or is he suggesting that there is a parallel system? The DP sits in the National Security Committee and even chairs it when the President is not around. Has he raised these concerns with NSC?” he posed.
Mr Murathe accused the DP’s of office of rushing to conclude that Sgt Kenei had committed suicide while investigations by the police have demonstrated that he was murdered in cold blood.
But Mr Ruto vowed to soldier on, saying “those who killed Kenei can kill me, but I am not going to relent because Kenya belongs to all of us”.
“If you killed Kenei so that you can scare me, his blood will follow you. I am the Deputy President of Kenya. I know what I am saying. I am not a mad man.”
He described Sgt Kenei as a dedicated and professional employee who handled all those who came to his office well.
“Many people come to the office — MPs, Heads of State, and many others. I did not get any complaints from any visitor, and that is why I’m saying without fear that he was a professional employee,” Mr Ruto said.
Earlier, before making his way to the service venue, the DP met with members of the Kenei family for a closed-door meeting that lasted almost two hours. He was accompanied to the home of Sgt Kenei by Nakuru Senator Susan Kihika and MPs Kimani Ngunjiri (Bahati), Rigathi Gachagua (Mathira), Nikson Korir (Lang’ata) and Kamuren Tuitoek (Mogotio) and Liza Chelule (Nakuru Woman Representative), among others.
Labour and Social Protection Cabinet Secretary Simon Chelugui, who is a close relative of Sgt Kenei, described the officer as a focused person with excellent organisational skills. Disputing the suicide theory, he said “in our family we have no history of suicides and the late Kenei cannot be the first”.
Sgt Kenei’s father John Chesang, who could not hide his tears when he stood to speak, described the death of his son as a loss that had brought him unfathomable pain.
“May our enemies’ crocodile tears turn to real tears,” the distraught father said, and asked the DCI to expedite the arrests of those who killed his son. He also asked the media to be judicious in the way it reports the matter, and then, in what appeared to be a curse on the killers, vowed:
“My son’s blood will never go to waste. His killers will never know peace.”
The burial service took off at exactly noon, with the deceased’s brother Emmanuel Kenei eulogising the slain officer as the family’s pillar who was full of life.
“He was exceptional in many ways; dedicated and very generous. He shared whatever he had with friends and family,” Emmanuel said.
Additional reporting by Justus Wanga.