Mystery surrounds the arrest of a county official over the Solai dam tragedy despite his name not being among the nine the Director of Public Prosecution preferred charges against.
County official Luka Kipyegen was arrested in the place of Rongai Deputy Commissioner Julius Kavita, who had earlier been listed by the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Noordin Haji. Kavita is still free.
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This prompted heated exchanges in the court room, with defence lawyers Tom Ojienda and Lawrence Karanja questioning the credibility of investigations.
“The DPP seems to have been under pressure to arrest the suspects without tangible evidence only to realise they had arested their own and hence move to substitute names. This has never happened,” Kariuki told Naivasha Principal Magistrate Joseph Karanja.
Ojienda added: “This move sets a bad precedent and we are wondering on whose directives the names were substituted, and who is the next casualty.”
Kipyegen, a newly deployed sub-county administrator, was arrested in his residential home at Kabarak in the outskirts of Nakuru town at around 6pm on Sunday.
Kipyegen has just been deployed from Kuresoi South and reported to Solai on May 7, two days before the tragedy struck.
The administrator was taken to the Directorate of Criminal Investigations offices for interrogation, where his fingerprints were taken. He was later handed over to the Naivasha courts and charged alongside the other eight suspects.
“The above suspects will be charged with the offenses of manslaughter… Julius Kavita- Sub- County administrator,” a statement by the DPP had read in part.
But Kavita insisted that his official job title was different and that he was not a suspect. He told The Standard he had not been implicated. “I’m not a sub-county administrator and neither do I work with Nema or Warma to have done regulations,” he said.
Efforts to get comments from senior investigating officers did not bear fruit. “Kindly confirm from Naivasha court,” read a phone message sent by Rift Valley Criminal Investigations Officer Gideon Kibunja.
The County Criminal Investigation Officer Joseph Koini also referred us to the courts.
Prior to the arrest, the detectives had called Kipyegen on Saturday and interrogated him about the Solai matter. This was contrary to an earlier brief to The Standard by Kibunja, who had said a warrant of arrest had been issued against Kavita.
Kibunja said his office had informed Kavita’s bosses about the warrant of arrest and directive from the DPP, and that officers expected him to present himself to the DCI offices. “The individual is a Government employee whom we expect to honour the directive by coming to our offices. If by Monday he will not have reported, we shall escort him to the courts,” said Kibunja.
According to the DPP, the directive to arrest the nine was issued after investigations revealed there was a breach of the Milmet Dam (Solai) embankment.