Security alert as drone flies into DP Ruto’s compound
Security officials have grilled a British national whose drone strayed into the private residence of Deputy President William Ruto on Monday evening.
The incident caused panic and security concerns after the drone, basically a flying computer with a camera or sensor attached, hovered over the residence before it disappeared. It was later traced to Ruto’s immediate neighbour, who surrendered it.
A joint team of detectives drawn from the National Intelligence Service, Directorate of Criminal Investigations and the Anti-Terrorism Police Unit yesterday questioned Hind Jeremy, 37, and some of his visitors who were at his residence at the time of the incident.
Though Nairobi Police Commander Augustine Nthumbi allayed fears of a security breach on the DP’s residence, sources said detectives wanted to establish if the neighbour inadvertently flew the drone over Ruto’s residence, or if it was intentional.
Police said the matter was reported by the DP’s wife, Rachel Ruto, who alerted them that a drone had strayed into their compound at around 3pm on Monday.
Detectives rushed to the scene immediately and discovered that the drone belonged to the Briton, who is Ruto’s immediate neighbour.
Jeremy was yesterday summoned to the Nairobi regional police headquarters where he was handed over to the DCI boss Benard Nyakwaka and his team.
The joint team investigating the matter retrieved the memory card of the device whose contents were being analysed.
“We will see from the memory card whether there is content that would amount to breach of privacy and security,” Nthumbi said.
In his statement to the police yesterday, the British national said he had visitors who came with the drone to take pictures of his new house.
He said he knew the DP well, since they had been neighbours for more than three years, adding that the drone belonged to his visitors and was registered by the authorities.
“Everyone who was there is going to record a statement with detectives as they seek to establish what transpired,” Nthumbi added.
The fortified residence situated on Koitobos road in Hardy, Karen, is guarded by officers from the Presidential Guard of the General Service Unit commonly referred to as the ‘G’ Company.
The platoon, of 30 officers, is usually headed by a senior officer.
“The probe will seek to establish if it was a case of spying or whether the drone just strayed over.
However, due to the security arrangements at the residence, the risks and chances of security breaches are almost nil,” said a senior official who sought anonymity.
Yesterday, Ruto’s spokesman Emmanuel Talam told People Daily that the Deputy President was not at the residence when the incident happened.
“The DP was not present. He does not even live there, that is his private residence. He stays in the official government residence,” Talam said.
“It is now a police matter, we have left it to the security agencies.”
However, other sources said the DP and his family normally operate from the residence but for functions involving many people, he prefers the government-owned official residence situated on Karen road.
The DP’s Karen Hardy residence is an eight bedroomed mansion set on a seven acre piece of land, with a detached maisonette for the children.
The residence boasts an Olympic size swimming pool, a gazebo, a barbecue area and a two-acre lawn used to meet delegations.
The DP has yet another residence within the same Karen neighbourhood, currently occupied by his son Nick.
Among Ruto’s neighbours in Hardy are Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka, his Ford Kenya counterpart Moses Wetangula, businessman Newton Osiemo and outspoken city lawyer Ahmednasir Abdullahi.
Sources told People Daily that the incident did not cause much concern within the family, because they believed it was a case of straying by the drone.
According to regulations, a drone operator should not use a device equipped with an imaging device to conduct surveillance on or take an image of a person or his property without that person’s written consent.
They must comply with all laws relating to protection of privacy or data.