The controversy over an alleged Ksh39 billion arms deal that was to be orchestrated by Echesa took a dark turn on Thursday, February 20 when Sergeant John Kipyegon Kemei, a police officer who was on duty when Echesa visited Ruto’s office with two arms dealers representing a Polish firm, was found dead.
In this article, kenyagist.com gives you a run-down of the series of events that have captured national attention even as the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) continues to investigate the case.
File image of Deputy President William Ruto’s Harambee House Annex office
Thursday, February 13 – Former Sports Cabinet Secretary Rashid Echesa Arrested
On February 13, Echesa hit the front-pages as he was arrested along Harambee Avenue in Nairobi and taken to Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) headquarters along Kiambu Road.
Echesa had been sacked by President Uhuru Kenyatta as Sports and Heritage Cabinet Secretary in March 2019, just one year, a month and two days after he was appointed to the position.
Police soon confirmed that Echesa had been apprehended after allegedly getting into a fake contract with foreign investors dealing with military equipment whom he convinced he could help secure a lucrative multi-billion shilling Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) tender for arms and military surveillance technology. He was accused of using the Office of the Deputy President and the signature, fraudulent or otherwise, of Defence Cabinet Secretary Amb. Monica Juma in a bid to seal the deal.
Echesa allegedly convinced the Polish firm, Eco Advanced Technologies LLC, to pay Ksh11,500,000 to a company known as Pizzle Consultancy Limited to show commitment.
He allegedly held a meeting with directors of the firm at a Nairobi hotel alongside individuals dressed in military uniform before being invited to Poland to supposedly inspect the military equipment in question. It is in the European nation that it was allegedly agreed that Echesa would be paid Ksh52 million once the contract was signed back in Nairobi.
It all went south on Thursday, February 13 when the deal was allegedly set to be signed and two of the military equipment firm’s foreign directors, Kozlowski Stanley Bruno and Mamdough Mostafa Amer, were ushered into the Harambee House Annex office accompanied by Echesa. They, however, never got to meet the Deputy President, with it allegedly further striking the foreigners as odd that the supposed military man in their past meeting wore a suit this time.
The foreigners, an Egyptian and an American, had allegedly been promised that the deal would be signed in Ruto’s presence.
Echesa was later taken to Muthaiga Police Station alongside three other individuals also allegedly involved in the deal; Daniel Otieno Omondi alias General Juma, Clifford Okoth Onyango alias Paul, and Kennedy Oyoo Mboya.
Monday, February 17 – Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) Officers Storm Ruto’s Harambee House Annex Office
At around 10.00 am on Monday, February 17, officers from the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) were seen arriving at the Deputy President’s Harambee House Annex office.
The officers reportedly interrogated various staff stationed at the building and carted away several documents and CCTV footage in a bid to shed light on the fraudulent arms deal.
Monday, February 17 – Echesa Arraigned in Court Over Ksh40B Arms Scandal
Alongside three of his co-accused, Echesa was arraigned at the Milimani Law Courts on Monday, February 17.
They appeared before Magistrate Ken Cheruiyot and faced twelve counts including conspiracy to commit a felony, making a document without authority, obtaining money by false pretences and impersonating a public service officer.
All four denied the charges and were released on a cash bail of Ksh1 million each. The hearing date was set for March 3, 2020.
Former Sports Cabinet Secretary Rashid Echesa (far right ) at the Milimani Law Courts on Monday, February 17 with his co-accused
Wednesday, February 19 – Ruto Writes to Inspector-General of Police Hillary Mutyambai Over Office ‘Security Breach’
Ruto referenced Echesa’s meeting with the foreigners as a serious ‘security breach’ in a letter to Police Inspector-General Hillary Mutyambai.
He wanted Mutyambai to establish which officers facilitated Echesa’s entry into the building.
In addition to wanting them barred from leaving the country until investigations were completed, Ruto also wanted the Police to establish the foreigners’ identities, immigration status and criminal records if any.
“This incident is a very serious breach of the security of the Deputy President and requires a thorough forensic investigation,” the letter signed by the DP’s Chief of Staff Amb. Ken Osinde read in part.
Thursday, February 20 – Police Officer Attached to Ruto’s Office Found Dead
Sergeant John Kipyegon Kenei, 33, was found dead at his house in Imara Daima, Nairobi on Thursday, February 20 with a bullet wound to the head.
Kemei was on duty at Harambee House Annex on the day Echesa visited accompanied by the foreigners.
It remains unclear whether it was a suicide or homicide with a police report indicating the bullet went through his chin.
“The bullet exited through the head and hit the ceiling. Beside the body was a Jericho pistol loaded with 11 rounds of ammunition,” the report read in part.
At 12.06 am on Friday, February 21, Ruto shared a message of condolence describing Kemei as a ‘disciplined young officer’.
“Deeply saddened by the death of Police Sergent Kipyegon Kenei who worked in my Harambee House Annex Office. Kenei was a disciplined young police officer. I urge the relevant authorities to conduct a thorough investigation to ascertain the circumstances surrounding his death.
“My heartfelt thoughts to the family, colleagues and friends. Rest In Peace,” he wrote.
Police officers at the house of the late Sergeant Kipyegon Kenei, a police officer attached to Deputy President William Ruto’s office, on Thursday, February 20, 2020