Detectives search Harambee Annex offices in Sh39b gun scandal

Harambee Annex where the office of the Deputy President is located. [File, Standard]
Detectives are collecting evidence on multibillion fake arms deal at Harambee Annex where among others, the office of Deputy President William Ruto is located.

At the centre of the Sh39 billion scandal is the former Sports Cabinet Secretary Rashid Echesa and three others who have been accused of defrauding the US and Poland-based arms dealers of Sh11.5 million said to be consultancy fees.

The companies have accused the former CS of tricking them that he would help them land a tender to supply the Ministry of Defence with military equipment worth Sh39 billion.

Echesa was arraigned at Milimani Law Courts alongside Daniel Otieno Omondi, Kennedy Oyoo Mboya, and Clifford Okoth.

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The detectives from the Serious Crimes Unit established that the former CS met an Egyptian and American who represented Eco Advanced Technologies at a boardroom in the office of the DP.

The investigators on Monday arrived at Annex Harambee House at 8 am with the two directors, and have been going through the CCTV footage to identify those who escorted the two directors of the company to DP’s offices.

The directors were tasked with positively identifying those who received them on the day they had a 23-minute meeting for the fake arms deal.

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Another identification parade is said to be underway at the DoD to identify suspects who may have participated in the scandal.

Amidst political heat, as critics called on DP Ruto to resign; he appeared to suggest that the meeting may have been held at his office, albeit, he was not part of the discussion and planning.

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The DP said in response that his office does not deal with procurement for any department of the state, and urged the investigators to spread their net wider and target other departments.

“Office of the Deputy President does not procure for any ministry/department. Question: Other than 23 minutes in Annex, for months, which government offices involved in the ‘tender’ did the scammers visit? Did they access DoD? Who facilitated? Who did they meet? Get the truth. Forget the sponsored nonsense in media,” Ruto said in a morning tweet yesterday.

The DP dragged other departments like the Department of Defence (DoD) and called on the sleuths to equally investigate its link to the scandal.

The Standard reached out to former Defence CS Raychelle Omamo and her successor Monica Juma over the issue, but the duo was tightlipped.

Gen Mwathethe, too, did not respond to similar inquiries. Instead, DoD through Director of Communications Bogita Ongeri denied knowledge of any such meeting at their offices.

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Ongeri also said DoD had a structured way of procuring equipment.

“We have no record of those mentioned coming to DoD for a meeting. DCI is handling the matter and let them complete the investigations. DoD has structured ways of procurement, which is long and thorough,” said Ongeri.

 “Defence contracts are signed at DoD and not any other place. The person who signs such contracts is the Principal Secretary, who is the accounting officer,” Ongeri added.

“From what we have seen or heard, it is a fake and conning gang tainting names. The said general is a masquerader. No general can do such things,” Ongeri said.

Additional reporting by Cyrus Ombati

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Deputy President William RutoRashid EchesaFake arms dealFraudDOD