The long-running suspected split in the executive over the highly charged 2022 succession race has spilt into the open after four Cabinet secretaries from the Mount Kenya region were summoned to the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) yesterday morning over an alleged plot to assassinate Deputy President William Ruto.
Ms Sicily Kariuki (Health), Mr Joe Mucheru (ICT) and Mr Peter Munya (Industry, Trade and Cooperatives) told journalists that they had received text messages from an officer, Mr Michael Sang, who is based at the DCI headquarters, asking them to present themselves to investigators over meetings they had been holding, allegedly to plan how to assassinate the DP.
The fourth CS was reported to be away. None of the three recorded a statement.
Normally, summons on such serious allegations are made by DCI George Kinoti or head of the Serious Crimes Unit Joseph Kariuki and in writing. The DCI was not available to comment on the matter.
Mr Munya, who addressed the media shortly after the visit to DCI, said the allegations were very serious, terming them irresponsible and intended to portray the ministers in bad light.
“I would expect somebody in that office to do proper investigations. There are machineries to do that before making unsubstantiated and wild allegations of that nature,” said Mr Munya.
“They are intended to make us look like criminals who meet to plot criminal activities against the DP. They are also meant to injure our reputation as law-abiding citizens of this country,” added the CS.
The three ministers arrived at the DCI headquarters on Kiambu Road at 8am and stayed there for about an hour before coming out to address the media. Sources at the DCI told the Nation the ministers had been seen at the Economic Crimes Department. The source added that there was no complainant in the matter on which the CSs were being investigated.
The trio were accompanied by principal secretaries Andrew Kamau (Petroleum) and Joseph Njoroge (Energy) and the secretary of the President’s Delivery Unit Andrew Wakahiu.
Relations between the Ruto and Kenyatta factions in Jubilee appear to be heading to the cliff. The assassination plot, whether real or imagined, could widen the rift.
The summons to the Cabinet secretaries came in the wake of an anonymous letter that had been circulating on social media since last week, allegedly written to President Uhuru Kenyatta by a CS who was protesting against meetings convened by colleagues from Mt Kenya to plan how to stop Mr Ruto from becoming President.
State House spokesperson Kanze Dena declined to confirm or deny whether the President received the letter that claimed that the four ministers had been meeting at Lamada Hotel.
However, the Cabinet secretaries who showed up at the DCI headquarters confirmed that they had been meeting at the hotel but said the agenda was the development concerns raised by politicians from the region.
“Indeed we had a meeting at Lamada and we will continue having meetings because the Constitution allows freedom of association and expression.
“People are allowed to meet as long as they are not meeting to plan any criminal activity,” Mr Munya said.
The meetings, he added, were mandated by President Kenyatta after complaints from Mt Kenya leaders over the slow rate at which government projects were being implemented in the region and how senior government officials, including CSs, PSs and parastatal heads from the region had become inaccessible to them.
“There is nothing sinister for people from a particular region to have a meeting. People from Central, like all other people in this country, are entitled to development and government services,” he said.
While lawmakers from DP Ruto’s turf maintained conspicuous silence on the matter, politicians from Mt Kenya rubbished the assassination claims and accused the Deputy President of undermining President Kenyatta and plotting to divide Central region leaders.
Speaking at Parliament, the MPs, led by Mr Ngunjiri Wambugu (Nyeri Town), Ms Wangari Mwaniki (Kigumo), Mr Maoka Maore (Igembe North), Mr Nduati Ngugi (Gatanga), Ms Gathoni Wamuchomba (Kiambu) and Mr Paul Koinange (Kiambaa), said they would not allow the DP to divide CSs from Mt Kenya “as he has done with MPs”.
Ms Wamuchomba said she was shocked by the accusations levelled against the ministers.
“The DP needs to be honest here. Why didn’t he write a statement himself instead of calling? Let’s not peddle lies in the name of politics,” Ms Wamuchomba said.
Mr Koinange said the CSs are honest and if the DP wants politics, he should not drag innocent people into it but face politicians.
“The DP is well-guarded and anybody should not be worried that his security is at risk,” Mr Koinange said.
Additional reporting by Samuel Owino