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Twist in fake arms tender probe as officer found dead

Wednesday March 18 2020
Kipyegon Kenei

Sergeant John Kipyegon Kenei was found dead in his house with a single bullet wound. PHOTO | COURTESY

By MARY WAMBUI
By MOHAMED AHMED

The death of a police officer critical to the investigation of the fake tender deal involving former Cabinet Secretary Rashid Echesa and an American company has puzzled investigators.

Sergeant John Kipyegon Kenei was found dead in his house with a single bullet wound and those interviewed said they neither heard a gunshot nor a commotion.

The sergeant was scheduled to record a statement at the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) over the tender fraud, but skipped his session.

Nairobi police commander Reuben Ndolo said they are treating it as a case of suspected suicide, adding that a team of homicide detectives was combing the scene to establish the cause of the officer’s death.

A report made in the police Occurrence Book says: “The bullet exited through the head and hit the ceiling of the said house. Beside the body … was a Jericho pistol loaded with 11 rounds of ammunition. One spent cartridge was recovered from the house and it is suspected the officer committed suicide. A note bearing the wordings ‘call my cousin Ben’ was recovered inside the house.”

When Sergeant Kenei was asked why he did not come to the DCI with the rest of his colleagues who were on duty on the day Mr Echesa and his allies visited the DP’s office, he said he was feeling unwell.

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Six officers and two secretaries have recorded statements. Two officers, including the one who was found dead yesterday evening, did not turn up at the DCI headquarters along Kiambu Road. The second officer who did not show up said he was taking his children to school.

On Thursday, Dr Ruto’s communications team said one of the officers who was expected to record a statement had gone missing.

“One of the security officers on duty on Thursday, February 13, when former Cabinet Secretary Rashid Echesa and two foreigners visited the office of the Deputy President and who was required to record a statement among others has not done so and neither has he reported for duty since Wednesday, February 19, the day he was scheduled to appear before the DCI. A search for the officer has been launched. So far five security officers have recorded statements,” the statement that was sent before the corpse was discovered said.

Last evening, Kenei’s workmates, who said he was a jovial officer who loved suits, decided to visit his house at Twiga Court in Imara Daima, Nairobi, after failing to reach him on his mobile phone for more than 12 hours.

On reaching his house, located around the Villa Franca Area, they found the main door open.

They found his body lying in the sitting room with one bullet wound on the chin. The bullet had exited through the roof of his head.

Neighbours told the Nation they had not heard any gunshots.

The officer’s body was taken to the City Mortuary and all Nyumba Kumi members from the area ordered to record statements at Embakasi Police Station.

Meanwhile, detectives from the DCI took the directors of the company alleged to have taken a Sh11.5 million kickback on behalf of the fraudsters in the Sh40 billion arms scandal for a search at their Mombasa office.

Earlier, DCI boss George Kinoti had exuded confidence on the progress of the investigations, saying they were building a watertight case and had covered significant ground.

Mr Kinoti, speaking in Mombasa, revealed that more arrests are looming over the scandal.

“We are expecting more arrests and more revelations. There is more that the public will know on this. We are also building a strong case because he (Mr Echesa) was arrested while in possession of actual evidence,” said Mr Kinoti.

Those who have already been questioned include seven employees from DP Ruto’s Harambee Annex office.

Detectives have also collected CCTV footage taken from the DP’s office, which positively identified two of his aides as having been present on February 13, when Mr Echesa met officials from Echo Advanced Technologies.

Dr Ruto has agreed that the meeting took place at his office, but distanced himself from the scandal.

On Wednesday, directors of Pzel Company Limited, which has been named as having played a role in the scam by allegedly receiving Sh11.5 million as kickback on behalf of suspects in the case, were arrested.

Ms Doreen Naomi Ratemo and Mr Chrispine Oduor Odipo were arrested by detectives after the directors of the American company claimed it was at Pzel that they were asked to part with the money as consultancy fees to enable them to land the military arms contract.

Mr Kinoti said it is believed more victims have fallen victim to the criminal ring that has international links.

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