In a case of strange irony, Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich was watching a press conference by Director of Public Prosecution Noordin Haji announcing his arrest when detectives stormed his office and detained him over the Arror and Kimawarer dams scandal.
Like many Kenyans, Rotich was curious to know the latest information on investigations involving the controversial multibillion projects in Elgeyo Marakwet County when detectives from the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) stormed into his office.
The officers found him glued to the TV, with a remote control in hand, probably to adjust the volume.
Officers from the Special Crime Prevention Unit moved in as the DPP started reading names of the people to be arrested over the scandal.
All the minister asked the detectives was, “Ni kesi gani mnasema? hakuna shida, twendeni” (Which case are you talking about? All the same, there is no problem, let’s go), he said, as he reached for his coat.
Before the officers accessed his 14th-floor office at around 10.45 am, the minister’s bodyguards had tried to block them, but Rotich, who was taking a cup of tea at the time, reportedly instructed them to allow the sleuths in.
The minister was courteous, even offering the arresting officers a cup of tea, which they politely declined.
The CS, who was arrested at the same time as his Principal Secretary Kamau Thugge, was whisked to the basement where the officers had parked their vehicles. The two were driven to the DCI headquarters in two separate cars as their bodyguards followed in different vehicles.
Rotich was arrested moments after the DPP directed the Director of Criminal Investigations George Kinoti to arrest and arraign Rotich and 27 others over the scandal about the whereabouts of Sh20 billion said to have been lost.
Other than Rotich and Thugge, others arrested from Treasury are Kennedy Nyakundi Nyachiro, the Chief Economist and Head of Europe II Division, and the Director, Resource Mobilisation Department, Jackson Njau Kinyanjui.
Also arrested are the PS East Africa Community Susan Jemtai Koech, the Inspector General State Corporations Titus Murithii, National Environment Management Authority (Nema) chief executive Geoffrey Mwangi Wahungu, and David Walunya Ongare and Boniface Mamboleo Lengisho, both of Nema.
The Kerio Valley Development Authority (KVDA) immediate former boss David Kipchumba Kimosop has also been arrested together with the authority’s head of Supply Management William Kemboi Maina and the manager for Engineering Services Paul Kipkoech Serem.
Also targeted are Italian nationals Paolo Porcelli, director CMC di Ravenna, CMC di Ravenna-Itinera JV Italy, and CMC di Ravenna Itinera JV Kenya. It is was not immediately clear how the probe team plans to effect the arrest of the Italians.
The DPP also listed the tender committee members as the suspects in the fraud. They are Francis Chepkonga Kipkech, David Juma Onyango, Patrick Kiptoo, Elizabeth Kebenei, and Esther Jepchirchir Kiror.
Seven of the 28 suspects, the DPP revealed, were members of the ad hoc technical and financial evaluation committee Team 2. They are Moses Kipchumba, Nelson Korir, Isaac Kiiru, Patrick Kipsang, Fredrick Towett, Jotham Rutto, and Charity Muui.
Abuse of office
Haji said the suspects would face charges of conspiracy to defraud, willful failure to comply with applicable procedures and guidelines relating to procurement, engaging in a project without prior planning and abuse of office.
They will also face charges of financial misconduct, fraudulent acquisition of public property and knowingly giving a misleading document “The decision to charge is based on the evidence that is available to the DPP at the time the decision is made,” he said.
It is expected that the CS and the other officials will step down once they are charged.
BY ZADDOCK ANGIRA, PD