On Thursday 13, 2020, former Sports CS Rashid Echesa and two foreigners went to Harambee Avenue in Nairobi and made their way into the Deputy President Dr William Ruto’s Harambee House Annex offices.
Mr Echesa asked the orderlies at Harambee House Annex, to inform the Deputy President that they were around.
The two foreigners had come here to discuss the details of a Sh39 billion military equipment contract between their Warsaw-based company and Kenya. They had already paid Sh50 million in various forms of facilitation fees, including Sh11 million to the former CS Echesa.
They were also carrying various documents detailing the military deal with Kenya, including letters bearing the name and signature of the Cabinet Secretary for Defence, Ms Monica Juma.
As they waited patiently for the Deputy President to show up, they were ushered into a boardroom, as the former CS paced up and down the corridors.
After a few anxious moments, the two were informed that Mr Ruto was not in the office, and so they left.
As they made their way out of the complex into the bustle of Harambee Avenue, they were intercepted by DCI, who arrested them.
It later emerged that the two men who were smuggled into Dr Ruto’s boardroom were agents of military equipment supplier ‘Eco Advanced Technologies.’ They were about to fall victim to con game playing out in the second highest office of the land.
The Deputy President Dr William Ruto later said he was not aware of any deal with Mr Echesa terming the association of his office with the scam as a “choreographed smear campaign” by his political competitors.
However, the DP’s communication team admitted that Mr Echesa had indeed visited Harambee House Annex in the company of the two men last Thursday, February 13 but denied any scheduled meeting with the DP at the Harambee House Annex on that day.
Several leaders have since demanded DP Ruto to explain the circumstances of the visit. Among them were Siaya Senator James Orengo, who said Dr Ruto risks being viewed as abetting corruption unless he clears his name over the matter.
“The office of the Deputy President has become a crime scene in Kenya. He must tell us what he knows about this matter to redeem himself and the office he occupies,” said Mr Orengo.
His sentiments were echoed by Lugari MP Ayub Savula, who noted that
“there is no way a meeting can be held in Mr Ruto’s office without his knowledge”.
On Friday 14, 2020, the DCI raided the Deputy President Ruto’s Harambee Annex offices and the sleuths reportedly made away with a number of documents and CCTV footage of the office to ascertain what truly transpired for the period related to the Ksh39 billion military tender scandal.
Sources say, the Detectives were keen to rope in all the ring leaders of the scheme, key interest being the three top officials, namely the long-time personal aide of the DP Farouk Kibet, Chief of Staff Ken Osinde and Private Secretary Reuben Maiyo. The Deputy President was however furious with the turn of events implicating his office and has since distanced himself from Sh39b Echesa scandal but instead accused his political competitors on their ‘choreographed smear campaign against him.
According to local publication, the raid was stretched to the former Sports Cabinet Secretary’s house is in Karen, Nairobi. During the raid that lasted for two hours, sources say the former CS led detectives into the recovery of assorted firearms alongside other documents. Among the firearms recovered include two guns and 104 rounds of ammunition.
The sources added that the search was also extended to Lang’ata, the homes of the three other suspects who had been arrested alongside the politician.
One of the suspects is believed to be a former military officer who allegedly had been presenting himself as a serving ‘military general’ at the centre of the deal.
According to the director of Eco Advanced Technologies’ Africa, he described the mystery soldier as someone who appeared well-known within the Ministry of Defence.
“His name is Mohammed Sabu and he claimed to be a KDF pilot and part of the joint operations between KDF and America in Somalia. He was always referred to as General,” the director said. On the occasions that he met with the suppliers in the upmarket Lavington neighbourhood and at a restaurant in Hemingways Hotel in Nairobi the “General” was always accompanied by a bodyguard and had escort cars with mounted sirens.
“I believed he is a pilot because later on when we were in Poland, he was able to operate the drones and he was also very conversant with military equipment, especially aircraft,” the director of the company, owned by American Koziowski Stanley Bruno, said.
The suspicion of the company directors was roused when, during the day, they were supposed to meet at the Office of the Deputy President, the “General” appeared wearing a suit and did not have a uniformed escort. And then, to make matters worse, an employee at Harambee House Annex referred to the “General” as Omondi.
Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) Director of Public Communication Bogita Ongeri distanced the KDF and the entire ministry from the deal, saying those mentioned were not employees of KDF. “The ministry has a well-structured procurement structure, which also follows the Public Procurement Act. Before anything is procured, it has to be approved by the Defence Headquarters’s approval committee and a legal team that is in place. There is no way the Defence CS can independently sign such deals. Actually, the Principal Secretary is the accounting officer,” Brig Bogita Ongeri said.