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DP William Ruto and Raila Odinga trade punches over Jacob Juma's murder

Deputy President William Ruto and CORD leader Raila Odinga yesterday engaged in war of words over the killing of businessman Jacob Juma.

The Deputy President accused Raila of using Juma’s death to gain political mileage, a day after his lawyer threatened to sue former Lugari MP Cyrus Jirongo for dragging his name into the murder.

But speaking in Kakamega, the CORD leader told Ruto to go ahead and sue Jirongo instead of issuing threats.

He was addressing hundreds of mourners who turned up to view Juma’s body at Approved School grounds in Kakamega town. Raila had accompanied the businessman’s family for a stopover in the town before the body was flown to Bungoma.

“Jirongo just echoed what late Juma wrote on his Facebook wall and Twitter handle about the plot to eliminate him. Why didn’t he (Ruto) sue the latter before his murder?” asked Raila. He accused the Jubilee administration of demeaning sanctity of life claiming Kenyans were being treated like dogs by the government.

But speaking in Aldai, Nandi County, the DP challenged Raila to give any evidence on Juma’s killing to security agencies investigating the incident to aid in the arrest of suspects.

He said it was unlawful for the CORD leader to sit on information that could put to rest the gruesome murder of the businessman.

“It is unfortunate that Raila and CORD have turned the killing of Juma into a political pity party at the expense of his bereaved family. The CORD leader has turned the death into a selfish political circus to gain political mileage,” he said.

Raila said Juma used to give him information on corruption in the government especially on the Eurobond and National Youth Service scandals.

“The reason he was killed is because of his closeness to me but what they don’t know is that we have many others like him still alive,” Raila told mourners.

He accused the government of being insensitive to the plight of Kenyans.

Raila said Inspector General of Police Joseph Boinnet owes Kenyans an explanation on how an AK47 rifle only entrusted to law enforcers was used to kill Juma.

“I am worried that even tear gas can be found in possession of ordinary people who use them at will to disrupt a public rally like what was witnessed during Senator Moses Wetang’ula’s presidential bid launch at Muliro Gardens in Kakamega town,” he said.

The DP termed Raila a “political rumour monger” who had made it a habit to “turn other people’s misfortunes to his advantage.”

“How can Raila develop a political narrative on such an unfortunate incident?” he posed.

The DP reiterated government’s commitment to fight crime.

He advised CORD leaders to find other ways to redeem their dwindling political fortunes instead of capitalising on tragic events.

During a requiem mass on Thursday at All Saints Cathedral in Nairobi, Jirongo also claimed that Juma slapped Ruto and that was the genesis of their differences.

Insinuation

The DP’s legal advisor Korir Sing’oei said Ruto had noted with concern the comments.

“Mr Jirongo made two statements of concern: First, he stated that the killers of Meshack Yebei, a prospective defence witness at the just concluded trial of the Deputy President at the International Criminal Court, were the same persons who killed Juma,” said the lawyer.

“Secondly: That Juma slapped Ruto and that’s where the problem started and investigations should start there.”

He said that “taken together, Jirongo’s statements carried the patent insinuation that Ruto was involved in the deaths of Yebei and Juma.”

The DP dismissed the claims as false, unfounded, malicious, mischievous and without basis, and served to malign and besmirch his character and lower his reputation.

“His Excellency William Ruto is further categorical that he never had any physical contact with the late Jacob Juma and the allegation that the deceased slapped him could therefore never have arisen,” read the statement to newsrooms.

He said they were reviewing the full transcripts of the “reckless, malicious and defamatory statements” made at the memorial of the late Juma by Jirongo and others.

Yesterday, Ruto termed the opposition’s actions following Juma’s murder and demonstrations to disband the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) “as the kicks of a dying horse.”

“CORD’s recent activities have only proven their desperation to redeem their dwindling popularity, this is laughable because Jubilee will win hands down in the next General Election,” he said.

Raila has linked the killing of Juma to “systematic elimination of critics and witnesses through extra-judicial killings.”

Opposition leaders have claimed that a police death squad responsible for past political assassinations and extra-judicial executions killed the businessman, further listing Juma as the 11th victim after the killings of 10 other individuals including Yebei and journalist John Kituyi.

On Thursday, Raila who linked the deaths to ICC witness elimination following the 2007/2008 post-election violence alleged “a chain of would-be witnesses” were eliminated in the events preceding the Ocampo six cases at The Hague.

But Ruto accused Raila of refusing to accept his innocence and that of President Uhuru Kenyatta, Joshua arap Sang and other Kenyans who faced trial at the ICC.

He said the Ocampo six had been absolved of any wrong doing by the court and accused the CORD leader of harbouring a grudge against top Jubilee leaders over his personal political failures.

He said: “Raila is refusing to accept the ICC absolved me and the President of any crime, his bitterness emanates from his personal failed ambitions.”

The DP was accompanied by Nandi Governor Cleophas Lagat and Senators Kipchumba Murkomen (Elgeyo Marakwet) and Stephen Sang (Nandi) who asked CORD to use government institutions to address their grievances.

“We ask CORD to present all evidence within its reach to crime investigating bodies,” Mr Murkomen said.

Other MPs present were John Waiganjo (Ol-Jororok), Cornelly Serem (Aldai), Kirwa Bittok (Mosop) and Zipporak Kerring (Nandi Women Rep).

Raila vowed to intensify demonstrations across the country to have IEBC commissioners leave office.

“They accuse us of not following the law in demanding for the removal of IEBC commissioners but when Wafula Buke took a petition to Parliament, it was shot down by the Jubilee legislators who are the majority,” said Raila.

Kakamega Senator Boni Khalwale said Juma was ready to bankroll CORD campaigns in 2017 to guarantee the Opposition victory.

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