Deputy President Ruto empire is guarded by 257 officers
Anthony Mwangi and Mercy Mwai
The raging debate over Deputy President William Ruto’s security detail yesterday exposed the huge number of police officers – 257 in total – guarding him and his multi-billion-shilling empire that includes residences, hotels and farms.
Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i, while appearing before the National Assembly Committee on Administration and National Security, revealed that the 257 officers, drawn from several police units, had been deployed to provide round the clock security to the DP’s numerous residences and other properties spread across the country.
Matiang’i, who had been summoned by the committee to respond to queries raised over the replacement of General Service Unit (GSU) officers attached to the DP with Administration Police Service officers at all his residences, denied claims that the personnel had been downgraded.
Accompanied by his Principal Secretary Karanja Kibicho, the Inspector General (IG) of Police Hillary Mutyambai and the Director of Criminal Investigations George Kinoti, Matiang’i outlined the three layers of security personnel assigned to the DP’s personal security.
Ruto’s properties, according to the Minister, include his private residences at Elgon View in Eldoret town and Kosachei with four security officers each, Kitengela Gas in Kajiado County is guarded by six officers, Weston Hotel also has six officers providing security.
Another six guard his 395 hectare Murumbi Farm in Transmara, Narok County.
The government, according to Matiang’i, also provides armed security at the DP’s 15,000-acre ADC Laikipia Mutara Ranch (six officers), Dolphin Hotel in Mombasa sitting on three hectares (six), the 2,537 acre Mata Farm in Taita Taveta County (six), the Koitalel Poultry Farm in Eldoret (four) and the Kwae Island Development Ltd at Wilson Airport comprising two hangers and five helicopters (five officers).
“This is sufficient security to the office of DP by all means,” Matiang’i told the committee chaired by Limuru MP Peter Mwathi.
The Interior CS further dispelled claims that the DP’s residence in Karen, Nairobi, is a ‘protected area’ and that is why GSU officers provide security.
“DP Ruto’s residence is not a State Lodge or a State House, the law is very clear it is his residence… we in the security sector work to be right in terms of making decisions and not to being popular,” Matiang’i stated.
Ruto’s security detail, the CS stated, is split into three layers, with the inner layer comprising 74 officers picked from the Presidential Escort, GSU and DCI units.
It is headed by an officer of the rank of the Commissioner of Police, one Senior Superintendent of Police and two inspectors of police.
He said the second layer comprises 121 highly trained officers drawn from prisons and general duties. It also boasts a 24-hour mobile patrol by the local OCPDs.
The third layer, also known as the auxiliary layer is in charge of DP’s other active life, including business and economic interests and areas where he is likely to spend more time.
Matiang’i at the same time accused the DP’s Chief of Staff Ken Osinde of allegedly leaking a letter he had written to the IG to the social media.
“We are going to ask the Head of Civil Service to take action. Releasing official documents is against the Code of Conduct and action will definitely be taken,” Matiang’i told the MPs.
Homa Bay Town MP Peter Kaluma and Kisumu County MP Rosa Buyu had sought to know whether the letter by Osinde had been addressed.
“The letter by Osinde was not only abusive but lacked substance, we need to know what action is going to be taken to such an officer,” said Kaluma.
But as the committee meeting progressed in the chamber, Kikuyu MP Kimani Ichung’wa sought to know the powers the committee used to investigate the re-arrangement done on the DP’s security.
Ichung’wa claimed that there was no request made by any member to have the matter investigated and thus was only acting from a request of the Executive.
He argued that legislators are using committees to settle political scores and have allowed parliament to be captured by the executive.
Matiang’i further said he was not aware of anything that has come close to threatening the security of the DP or his properties.
“This is a matter of national pride and image of the country... we are not a bunch of jokers,” he said.
The CS dismissed claims by a section of the DP’s allies that his security had been downgraded, saying what the IG did was a routine rearrangement of the second layer of security, which did not affect the first layer.
This, he said, was done following serious consultations at the National Security Council.
Said Matiangi: “The problem with our country is that some people suffer from sympathy addiction.
They are always looking for opportunities to lament about this and that to attract sympathies.
We in the security sector make decisions after serious considerations knowing we will be held accountable.”
Matiang’i went on to demonstrate that Ruto was the most guarded VP compared to his predecessors and even former Prime Minister Raila Odinga.
“Contrary to the allegations made, H.E. the Deputy President is the most guarded in the history of the country in comparison to previous equivalent office holders,” Matiang’i told the MPs.
They include Jaramogi Oginga Odinga, who had 30 officers, Joseph Murumbi (22), Daniel Moi (34), Mwai Kibaki (26), Josephat Karanja (22), George Saitoti (30), Musalia Mudavadi (22), Michael Wamalwa Kijana (22), Moody Awori (22), Kalonzo Musyoka (26) and former PM Raila (57).
He wondered why the matter was being politicised; adding that similar reassignments have been conducted in the past and no queries had been raised.
But in a quick rejoinder, the DP through his Director of Communications David Mugonyi, accused the CS of abusing “public resources and the power of his office to score cheap points in a futile attempt to humiliate, disparage, denigrate and ridicule the person and the Office of the Deputy President for political propaganda”.
“Matiang’i has conducted himself in a manner totally unbecoming of the holder of such high office and has attempted to profile the DP as ineligible to receive services from his ministry,” Mugonyi wrote.
He said the DP is elected to discharge and fulfill a critical constitutional mandate his security is, therefore, necessary to ensure those mandates are not undermined.
“There are precedents where his security has been breached. Each of these breaches has not only threatened our constitutional order; it has caused anxiety, tension and despondency among the citizens of Kenya,” Mugonyi added.
He said by singling out the DP and casting adverse attention to the particulars of his security arrangements Matiang’i discriminated against the Office and the person of the Deputy President, potentially exposing him to further security threats.
“To underscore Matiang’i’s recklessness, many properties allocated to the DP in his statement to Parliament are in fact not his.
To add insult to injury, Matiang’i asserts that he has deployed security officers to these unknown strange properties.
In any event, the DP went on record as early as 2018 to announce his readiness to undergo a lifestyle audit per the President’s directive.
This false association with strange and fictitious properties is malicious,” Mugonyi wrote in reference to Ruto’s properties listed by the CS.
Back in the chamber, Ichung’wa said the committee had commenced investigations on the matter on its own motion.
“The Security Committee is meeting on the question of withdrawal of the DP security; to my recollection this House was on recess and that there was no request.
Either the chair or certain members are using the session to advance other things,” he said.
And Nandi Senator Samson Cherargei said he had submitted a request to the Leader of Majority for a Special Sitting to discuss the matter.
“I have attained the requisite 15 senators to call for a Special sitting today to discuss the matter of the DP’s safety which borders on national security,” Cherargei told the media.