Ayub Savula claims he was coerced into supporting Raila Odinga

Kakamega deputy governor-elect Ayub Savula. [Stephen Nzioka, Standard]

Kakamega deputy governor-elect Ayub Savula has joined the growing list of Azimio politicians seeking to mend fences with president-elect William Ruto.

Mr Savula now claims he was coerced and intimidated by Azimio operatives into supporting Raila Odinga's presidential bid in the just concluded General Election.

The former Lugari MP, who was elected on an ODM ticket alongside Fernandes Barasa, said he was in Raila's camp out of coercion.

"I have not mentioned it to anyone but today I will go public about it. It is the coercion from the Directorate of Criminal Investigation (DCI) that forced me to support the Azimio coalition. They arrested me together with my two wives at night on fictitious charges," he said at a funeral in Lugari on Saturday.

Savula said he was accused of stealing Sh1.5 billion from the government "but they could not produce any evidence."

"It did not stop at that. I was arraigned and on the other hand, Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) was on my neck with a dubious tax bill of Sh500,000,000. It was until an officer from the DCI hinted to me that I would be a free man once I declared support for Raila and not Ruto."

The former lawmaker claimed to have been among the first politicians who declared support for a Ruto presidency in 2017.

"Immediately after elections, I joined a bandwagon that was drumming up support for Dr Ruto's presidential quest," he said.

He said the decision he took was based on the fact that Ruto's Turbo constituency was bordering Lugari and that he (Ruto) was "a good neighbour" and the best-qualified person to succeed President Uhuru Kenyatta.

"I have even talked to my party boss Raila who is out of the country on the same and asked him to retire after a lengthy struggle and pass the baton to young leaders," he said.

Savula was among the "Ruto hard hitters" in Azimio alongside former Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho and Suna East MP Junet Mohamed.

The change of heart comes barely a day before the swearing-in of the president-elect tomorrow.

Savula and his boss Fernandes Barasa will take the oath of office on September 15 at the iconic Bukhungu Stadium in Kakamega Town, the home county of ODM's deputy party boss Wycliffe Oparanya.

He was among five Amani National Congress (ANC) lawmakers from Western who were poached by Azimio at the eleventh hour.

Others are Titus Khamala (Lurambi), Christopher Aseka (Khwisero), Oku Kaunya (Teso North), Tindi Mwale (Butere) and Peter Nabulindo (Matungu). They all successfully defended their seats on the ODM party ticket.

By Kamau Muthoni 56 mins ago
Premium Heineken set to pay distributor Sh1.7bn in Supreme Court blow
Digital Media City pact with South Korea a big boost for Kenya's creative industry
Treasury mulls budget cuts if Finance Bill 2024 fails
Anti-budget push could yield fruits that poison Ruto, IMF relationship