The Interior ministry has said failure by the office of Deputy President William Ruto to furnish it with the itinerary of his tours across the country was to blame for the absence of senior security officers in some of his functions.
Interior Principal Secretary Karanja Kibicho further says that the allegations that the government had withdrawn security from a church function attended by Dr Ruto were false.
On Thursday, Dr Ruto attended a public meeting in Tetu, Nyeri County, but conspicuously missing were the senior county security officials, who always accompany him or the President whenever they come calling.
Mr Kibicho said the incident in Tetu was caused by poor communication between the Deputy President’s team and the police on the ground, who were informed when it was too late.
He said when police were informed, they rushed to the site and found that the function had already ended.
“There is no way anyone can downgrade the security of the Deputy President. It is not possible,” Mr Kibicho said in a phone interview with the Saturday Nation.
The PS explained that whenever top government officials visit an area, the practice is that word is sent in advance to the County Commissioners in the area, who in turn make the necessary arrangements and deploy security officers ahead of the visit.
Mr Kibicho said the response of police officers was slowed by the ongoing Huduma Namba registration exercise that is being overseen by police officers.
This further stretched the number of men available to respond to the call. “Officers had been deployed to cover the Huduma Namba registration, and when they learnt of his (Deputy President’s) arrival, they rushed to the scene but got there when he had already left. It was a brief function,” he explained.
Earlier in the day, allies of the DP had read malice in the delays of the police to arrive at the scene and argued that it was part of the pattern to limit movement of the DP, which has earned him the Tanga Tanga nickname — which means loitering.
The replacement of regular police officers with Administration Police officers has also taken a political dimension and has fuelled the rift within the Jubilee administration following the handshake between President Uhuru Kenyatta and Opposition chief Raila Odinga.
Mr Kibicho also defended the ongoing redeployment of VIP protection as part of the reforms passed by Members of Parliament.
He dared any politician without the requisite security protection as provided for in law to come out.
Security bosses have defended the realignment of the VIP protection for certain MPs allied to Dr Ruto, saying it was is part of the ongoing reforms that will see some Administration Police officers become the official bodyguards for politicians and top government officers including Cabinet secretaries, Principal Secretaries as well as MPs.
The change is expected to free over 10,000 officers in the National Police Service to be deployed for other assignments.
Some of the duties police officers will perform include dealing with emerging crime and prevailing incidents like kidnapping, cattle rustling and terrorism.
Mr Kibicho said those complaining may not be happy with the change to using APs for VIP protection, arguing that the exercise did not target anyone.
Politicians, especially those allied to Dr Ruto, including Kiambu Governor Ferdinand Waititu and Kikuyu MP Kimani Ichung’wa, have claimed that their lives are in danger after some of their guards were recalled.
“My fellow Principal Secretaries have also been affected. All police bodyguards have now been replaced by the trained Administration Police officers,” the PS said.
Governors are allowed two guards during the day and two at night.
Earlier on Friday, police had dismissed reports of withdrawing security from the Tetu church event.
Tetu Sub-County Police Commander Isaiah Odhiambo said the reports circulated on social media by bloggers and reported by one TV station were false and misleading.
He said at least 75 police officers drawn from various security agencies including the Kenya Police, Directorate of Criminal Investigations, traffic department and General Service Unit were at the event.
“I was informed two days earlier about the event and we made the security arrangements. Upon landing at a nearby school, the Deputy President found security officers and I was the team leader,” Mr Odhiambo told Saturday Nation in his office at Ndugamano police station.
The Deputy President’s chopper landed in a field a short distance from the church. About 2,000 faithful attended the event.
At the church, the DP was received by the African Independent Pentecostal Church of Africa (AIPCA) clergy led by Archbishops Fredrick Wang’ombe and Samson Muthuri. “I stayed there (church) until the event was over before escorting him back to the chopper.
“The bloggers were spreading false information for political purposes. We, in the security, do not play politics,” Mr Odhiambo added.
Terming the day as busy and overwhelming for the security agencies, Mr Odhiambo said another contingent of police had been deployed in Othaya for the burial of Ivy Wangechi, the Moi University student suspected to have been killed by a man in love with her.
“Both events had huge crowds, but we have enough officers to ensure everybody is safe,” he said.
He further explained that the area deputy county commissioner was not present, as she is mourning a relative’s death.
The TV station had claimed that the order to withdraw security from Dr Ruto’s event was issued from the provincial administration.