Deputy President William Ruto yesterday seemed to confirm that a meeting to defraud foreigners of billions of shillings in a fake arms deal was hosted in his office for 23 minutes.
In a tweet, Dr Ruto also sought to drag other departments, including the Department of Defence (DoD), into the Sh39 billion scandal, saying the leadership there should also be questioned for the “truth to come out”.
Dr Monica Juma is Defence Cabinet Secretary and her signature was used on the fake documents, while Gen Samson Mwathethe is the Chief of Defence Forces. The shady deal dates back to last year when Raychelle Omamo was Defence CS before she was moved to Foreign Affairs this year.
Ruto said his office does not procure goods and services for any ministry or department. The DP suggested the scope of investigations should be widened to find out which other government offices the scammers visited before the racket was revealed last week.
“Office of the Deputy President does not procure for any ministry/department. Question: Other than 23 minutes in Annex, for months, which government offices involved in the ‘tender’ did the scammers visit? Did they access DoD? Who facilitated? Who did they meet? Get the truth. Forget the sponsored nonsense in media,” Ruto said in a morning tweet.
Yesterday, Omamo and Juma did not respond to queries on whether the foreigners met at DoD or what they knew about the suspicious deals. Gen Mwathethe, too, did not respond to similar inquiries. Instead, DoD through Director of Communications Bogita Ongeri denied knowledge of any such meeting at their offices.
Ongeri also said DoD had a structured way of procuring equipment.
“We have no record of those mentioned coming to DoD for a meeting. DCI is handling the matter and let them complete the investigations. DoD has structured ways of procurement, which is long and thorough,” said Ongeri.
“Defence contracts are signed at DoD and not any other place. The person who signs such contracts is the Principal Secretary, who is the accounting officer,” Ongeri added.
“From what we have seen or heard, it is a fake and conning gang tainting names. The said general is a masquerader. No general can do such things,” Ongeri said.
Ruto’s admission came after it emerged police had raided his office and taken away CCTV footage that captured the events at the office last Thursday. The footage, according to those who had seen it, shows the two arms dealers – an American and an Egyptian – who were representing Eco Advanced Technologies that is seeking to supply the military hardware to Kenya, being ushered into the office.
The pair are seen walking through the security checks without any screening. With them are three other men and former Sports Cabinet Secretary Rashid Echesa. The trio has since been identified as Daniel Omondi, Kennedy Mboya and Clifford Okoth. Omondi presented himself as a military general during the meetings complete with military uniform and bodyguard.
The arms dealers are then taken to the diplomatic boardroom on the second floor next to the DP’s office and served with drinks and snacks. Several people are seen walking in and out of the room before the guests are finally walked out. Echesa and his accomplices were arrested a few metres away from the office by detectives who had been waiting outside.
Echesa and team are expected in court tomorrow for the mention of their case after they were released on a Sh1 million cash bail by a JKIA court on Friday. Investigators say Echesa and the three used the Office of the Deputy President and Juma’s signature to cut the fraudulent multi-billion shillings deal for the supply of military surveillance equipment and guns.
The arms dealers told police Echesa approached them through mail in October 2019, introducing himself as a Kenyan politician who would hook them up with a lucrative Sh39.5 billion tender. To show commitment, he is reported to have asked them to pay a firm known as Pizzle Consultancy $115,000 (Sh11.5 million) as consultancy fee.
They said Echesa summoned the directors of the company into the country and had a meeting at a Nairobi hotel in the presence of people dressed in military uniforms, one of them introducing himself as General Omondi, who would be the user of the military equipment to be supplied to DoD.
The directors then arranged a trip for Echesa and three others to Poland, the headquarters of the company, to inspect the surveillance equipment. Echesa travelled on a diplomatic passport. It is here that he claimed Echesa received Sh52 million upon the signing of the contract after allegedly approving the standards of the equipment.
Last Thursday, the two arms dealers were ushered into Harambee Annex where the deal was to be signed in the Office of the Deputy President. They were to transfer Sh3.9 billion to the Kenyan brokers on the same day, which is 10 per cent of the cost of the fake tender when police struck.
They told police they were shocked to establish the man who all along identified himself as General Omondi was dressed in a suit this time round and did not have bodyguards. They also said they never got to meet the Deputy President despite Echesa promising that the contract would be signed in his presence.
On Saturday, Ruto blamed his political competitors for the smear campaign against him even as leaders demanded that he record statements or pave way for investigations. Kitui Governor Charity Ngilu and former Nominated Senator Paul Njoroge want the DP to take responsibility.