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Two quizzed as fake tender probe intensifies

Thursday February 20 2020

Former Sports CS Rashid Echesa

Former Sports CS Rashid Echesa leaves the JKIA Law Courts on February 14, 2020, after a ruling on his release from police custody, on a police cash bail of Sh1 million, in the Sh40 billion military equipment scandal. PHOTO | FRANCIS NDERITU | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

VINCENT ACHUKA
By VINCENT ACHUKA
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JUSTUS WANGA
By JUSTUS WANGA
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The directors of a company that allegedly received a Sh11.5 million kickback on behalf of suspects in the Sh40 billion fake arms scandal have been arrested. The two were arrested last evening as the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) widened the net in the investigation.

Detectives from the DCI made a visit to Plaza 2000 on Mombasa Road in Nairobi and apprehended Mr Chrispine Oduor Odipo and Ms Doreen Naomi Ratemo. The two are directors of Pzel Company Limited, which has been named as having played a role in the scam.

Mr Mustafa Mamdough and Mr Stanley Kozlowoski, the two foreigners claiming to be directors of American company Eco Advanced Technologies who were allegedly conned by a criminal ring led by former Sports Cabinet Secretary Rashid Echesa, told detectives that it is at Pzel that they were asked to part with Sh11.5 million as consultancy fees to enable them get the military arms contract.

After being arrested, Mr Odipo and Ms Ratemo were driven to the DCI headquarters on Kiambu Road for questioning, as other detectives continued to search for any documents relating to the case at Pzel’s company premises.

This came as Deputy President William Ruto held a daylong meeting with the staff assigned to his Karen and Harambee Annex offices in a bid to find an effective strategy to counter the narrative that has painted the second in command negatively.

The meeting was still ongoing Wednesday evening at the DP’s Karen office, with sources present telling the Nation that it was largely a housekeeping affair.

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Seven employees from the DP’s Harambee Annex office have already been questioned by detectives from the Serious Crimes Unit of the DCI.

At the Karen meeting, it is said Dr Ruto was greatly concerned about the constant leaking of information from his camp to the media and his political competitors.

The development has bred suspicion among the staff, with growing concerns among the DP’s handlers that certain employees had been retained by the DCI with the aim of discrediting Harambee House Annex.

While he claims to be a victim of bad press, the DP’s own admission that a team led by Mr Echesa was at his offices for 23 minutes on the material day has not helped matters, in what has now seen the DCI ask to be furnished with more CCTV footage from the highly guarded installation.

As the meeting was going on, Dr Ruto, who has all along distanced himself from the scam, is said to have thrown his ally Echesa under the bus.

In an interview with NTV on Tuesday night, the former CS said he did not need an appointment to see the DP.

Sources at Harambee Annex said Mr Echesa was a regular visitor.

“The Deputy President is my friend. We have been friends for a long time. I don’t need an appointment to see the Deputy President. And to add onto that, I have been a Cabinet minister,” Mr Echesa said.

The DP has, however, termed last week’s entry into his office by Mr Echesa and the two foreigners who were almost conned as a breach of security. In a letter sent to Inspector-General of Police Hillary Mutyambai, Dr Ruto seeks to know how the former CS managed to access his office.

Courtesy of his status in government, the Deputy President’s two offices are considered as protected areas. Visitors can only access them with prior appointments and records of their entry and exit have to be kept.

“This incident is a very serious breach on the security of the Deputy President and requires a thorough forensic investigation to establish, among others, the identity and mission of the persons who accompanied Mr Echesa and their criminal records if any,” said the DP through his Chief of Staff Ken Osinde.

“Foreign Affairs should facilitate information on these foreigners and the profiles of the companies they represent,” Dr Ruto added.

Mr Osinde’s letter, we gathered, was informed by the need to do damage control. It followed a crisis meeting at the Annex on the options available to salvage the DP’s reputation.