What started as a political bluff as an assassination claim against has morphed into a security and political mess that could damage Deputy President William Ruto.
The issue is slowly turning into a case of DP’s circles move to achieve a selfish end as well as jingoists who didn’t think through the repercussions of their actions.
One thing is clear, the mess at the DP’s door will do more damage than good.
Dennis Itumbi, an ally of Mr Ruto, was arrested Wednesday while having lunch in Nairobi and is expected to be charged over the fake letter that claimed there was a plot to assassinate the DP.
Of interest is that officers at the DP’s office were quick to clarify that Mr Itumbi is not an official in their office but that he’s the State House digital director and has an office there.
Mr Itumbi will be charged with publishing alarming information. But some sources at the DCI said it is likely that detectives will ask to detain Mr Itumbi for two weeks in order to complete investigations.
Preliminary investigations on the letter, which purported that four Cabinet secretaries had met to plan about assassinating the DP, found that not only was it false, but was also written by people close to Mr Ruto.
The letter, dated May 30, 2019, claimed that a meeting had been convened by Interior Principal Secretary Karanja Kibicho at Hotel La Mada to discuss how to “shore up support for the President in Mt Kenya and its diaspora”.
Interestingly, Mr Ruto, who the DCI said had complained to him about the assassination plot, has refused to record a statement. Instead, he has left it to his political wingmen to do the talking for him on social media and in public spaces.
Moments after Mr Itumbi’s arrest, details on the circumstances under which the “assassination letter” may have been crafted and released to the public began to emerge.
Sources at Harambee House Annex say that, while the DP eventually took up the matter because it was his own life “at stake”, he did not commission it.
“In fact, the boss was shaken when he got wind of it. It is at this point that he took it up with the President,” the source said.
Coming at a time when politicians opposed to Mr Ruto’s presidential bid from Central Kenya have grown bolder by the day, some insiders suggest, the letter’s intention was to make the DP appear as a victim of the region’s betrayal while at the same time giving him some sympathy in the region.
When the letter was brought to the DP’s attention, he is said to have driven to State House to formally complain to his boss, President Uhuru Kenyatta, that some State operatives were after his life.
Equally, he is also reported to have asked Mr Kenyatta if he was aware of the scheme.
Surprised at the turn of events, the President quickly summoned security chiefs and instructed Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) boss George Kinoti to get to the bottom of the matter and brief him within hours. Things happened quickly.
The authorities, aware that the letter has the potential to bring the government to its knees, is treating it with grave seriousness, with high-ranking officials like National Intelligence Service boss Philip Kameru said to be involved. Mr Itumbi, if found guilty, will get a jail term of two years.
“Any person who publishes any false statement, rumor or report which is likely to cause fear and alarm to the public or to disturb the public peace is guilty of a misdemeanor,” states Chapter 66 of the Penal Code.
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