The cat Ruto let out of his bag during interview


President William Ruto speaks during a media engagement session at State House, Nairobi on January 4, 2023. [PCS, Standard]

President William Ruto on Wednesday night glanced at the side view mirror of former President Uhuru Kenyatta's administration and peered through a dark lense implicating his predecessor’s Director of Criminal Investigations (DCI) George Kinoti of extrajudicial killings.

Ruto, who held a roundtable interview across major TV stations at State House, accused Kinoti of normalizing forced disappearances and weaponizing the criminal justice system. Kinoti resigned in September 2022 soon after Ruto took office after being at the helm of the criminal investigating agency since 2018 and transferred to the Public Service Commission (PSC).

Ruto said the officers, and their masters, will take responsibility for their actions, including the killings in the lead-up to the 2022 election, but his administration will not set up an inquiry as the Independent Policing Oversight Authority (IPOA) was seized of the matter.

“I [already] had a thorough meeting with IPOA and we have agreed with them that it is not necessary for me to establish another task force when IPOA is there and it is squarely within their mandate to tell us how Kenyans ended up being killed in this manner,” said Ruto.

He added, “It was business as usual; 30 bodies in Yala, 17 in Garissa. There was a container here at Nairobi area where people were being slaughtered in a police station. How did we end up there? What kind of rogue institution [is that]? And that Is why I fired that 'Kinoti man'.”

Opening a pandora’s box on how decisions to charge were being made when the war on corruption was at its peak during Kinoti and Noordin Haji’s tumultuous partnership, Ruto hinted that the former DCI boss over-exerted his influence on the DPPs office to implicate his allies.

Ruto claimed that the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Noordin Haji, who is under fire over the withdrawal of multiple high-profile graft cases, was threatened with the sack and coerced into prosecuting cases of persons associated with his Kenya Kwanza Alliance brigade.

The cases, he added, were bound to collapse as they were politically instigated.

According to the President, the 2018 ‘handshake’ between President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga precipitated the collapse of, among others, stopgap measures to hold the government and institutions in check.

“It was just an ugly situation and I pray that Kenya never again goes to a place where the criminal justice system is used to manipulate politics,” said Ruto.

The alleged subversion of justice and murders, according to Ruto, was the tip of the iceberg as the extent of cronyism and state capture allegedly roped in Kenya Defence Forces’ military actors who sought a stake in the election's outcome.

"The events of August 15, 2022, were horrible because even the military, a sacred institution, had been roped into the scheme to sabotage the will of the people because of that state capture menace. If Wafula Chebukati [IEBC chair] was to tell you the kind of hell he went through... The day the story of August 15, 2022, will be told in Kenya, you will know why I am delaying [to form a judicial team]. I want to promise you that this state capture will be told, one day," said Ruto.

Pressed with how his administration will safeguard the rule of law now that he is in power, Ruto said his Office will not be similarly used to use the criminal justice system against his opponents or for any other political purpose.

“If there are signs that my office is being used [to do the same] it should be called out. That is why I am an open book – I want a vibrant opposition. How did we get here? We got here because of the handshake nonsense; we got here because the opposition, which should hold the government into account, got into an illegal cohabitation in the name of unity. Who says by having the opposition we are not united? said Ruto.

In an interview during KTN’s Checkpoint in October 2022, Haji said the decision to terminate the cases was made after the DCI failed to present evidence linking the accused persons to charges they were facing and, in some instances, confession by investigators that they were unduly influenced to press the charges.

Haji claimed he was threatened in the course of discharging his independent office mandate and he, at some point, sought the help of former President Uhuru Kenyatta.

“We stood for what was right despite threats, and coercion. We all know my house was broken into, a few months before the election. I did not say much. I was made to feel like a second-class citizen in this country, despite the fact that I am a Kenyan. This was all because some people wanted to bend the Constitution to serve their own interests, but I stood firm despite all those threats,” Haji said.

As to the timing of the withdrawals soon after Ruto took office, Haji reiterated that there was no appropriate moment to stop the miscarriage of justice.