Police on Thursday paraded an Isiolo businessman whom they claimed newspapers had mistaken for Rwandan fugitive Felicien Kabuga.
Mr Daniel Muthee Ngera, a 58-year-old man who retired from the civil service in 2000, said the photos published in the Daily Nation and aired in an NTV investigative documentary, were of him taken in his timber workshop in Isiolo.
The man was accompanied by his wife and children at a press conference organised by the police at Vigilance House, the police headquarters.
“I was born 58 years ago in Meru, I have never been to Rwanda and the furthest I have gone is Kisumu, Moyale and Garissa,” he said.
Police spokesman Eric Kiraithe said: “We have cause to believe that the man represented as Kabuga and alleged to have been photographed in Force’s Memorial Hospital by one Salunei (sic) (an ex-Kenya Defence Force’s employee) is Mr Daniel Muthee Ngeera.
“He has categorically stated that the photograph was taken in his shop in Isiolo. He has also produced convincing evidence to support his testimony.”
The Daily Nation and NTV published photographs provided by a source who explained that they were taken by Infrantryman Michael Saroney whose disappearance in 2008 is still unexplained.
Nation investigations unearthed information that suggested that Mr Kabuga was not only in the country, but was being protected by people either close to the military and security services, or with access to the resources of those institutions.
On Thursday, Mr Ngeera was provided with two armed police officers to guard him and his family round the clock after he expressed fear that the news had exposed him to danger.
He even spoke to journalists in Kimeru — the Meru language — to prove that he was an indigenous Kenyan.
Mr Ngeera said he did not know when his pictures were taken.
“I do not know any time I offered myself to be photographed. They (the photographs) were taken without my knowledge and I don’t know for what reason. But when I got to know I am Kabuga and I’ve got a price tag on my head and where I stay is a very dangerous place, I sought police protection,” he said.
The United Nations Tribunal for Rwanda has offered $5 million (Sh400 million) to anyone who gives information that would lead to the arrest of Mr Kabuga.
More than 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus were killed in the 1994 Rwandan genocide in which Mr Kabuga is accused of playing a leading role.
Mr Kiraithe also claimed that the documents said to have been from the Department of Defence were forgeries.
“I would also like to state that we have thoroughly scrutinised the records of the Kenya Defence Forces since 1996 and we have not been able to trace any records indicating that the said Salunei (sic) ever served in the Kenya Defence Forces at any one point in time. The documents attributed to DOD in the documentary have such glaring falsehoods,” he said.
He particularly questioned references to “DOD Commandant” — a position he said does not exist in the Kenyan military.
A special taskforce consisting of local police, ICTR officials and the FBI was formed in April 2007 to track down and arrest the fugitive, Kabuga.
The taskforce has visited Kenya more than 30 times and been to estates within Nairobi, Narok, Moyale, Trans Mara, Baringo, Mombasa, Kilifi, Malindi, Kajiado, Nanyuki, Nakuru, Busia, Bungoma, Eldoret, Kericho, Thika and Nyeri, Mr Kiraithe said.
“The pieces of information pursued included allegations that he was hiding with in-laws in Siaya, running a school in Nyeri as well as doing real estate business in Mombasa. In Narok, it was dramatically alleged that he owned land where he was farming along with some prominent Kenyans,” Mr Kiraithe said.
ICTR has reported to the Security Council of the UN several times that Kenya is harbouring Mr Kabuga.
The US government also believes that the fugitive is in Kenya and that the government is not doing enough to catch him.
On Thursday, the Department of Defence lodged a complaint against the Nation Media Group at the Media Council.