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Police surround former Interior CS Fred Matiang'i's Karen home

 Former Interior CS Dr. Fred Matiang'i at a past function. [File, Standard]

Police reportedly surrounded the home of former Cabinet Secretary for Interior Fred Matiang'i in Karen, Nairobi, last night.

This morning, Dr Matiangi's lawyers applied for anticipatory bail to forestall the arrest of their client.

According to his lawyer Danstan Omari, who addressed the media at around 10:30pm Wednesday, the former CS was holed up in his home.

"I can confirm to every Kenyan in this country that the life of Matiang'i is at risk. We don't know the intention of wanting to invade Matiangi's home at this time of the night. We don't know why they want to arrest him and take him to. We don't know what offense he has committed. Our client is ready to be summoned to go and appear before any police station and record a statement if they have anything to charge him with," said Omari.

Omari said other lawyers were also at the home of Matiang'i to 'protect' him.

"We have put a cordon in his house of more than 200 lawyers protecting our client. We shall not leave here till morning so that when Matiang'i is being arrested we will follow the law," said Omari.

The Standard could not confirm Mr Omari's claims.

Azimio leader Raila Odinga, who accompanied the lawyers, condemned the night action.

"I've just received information that police have surrounded the home of former Interior CS Matiang'i and I was shocked to hear that this is happening at this hour. They say that the more things change, the more they remain the same. We are now witnessing what this country has been through before, the times of late-night arrests and detentions of people without any formal charges. This is what actually appears to be coming back to our country.

If Mr Matiang'i has committed a crime, he's a Kenyan and lives in Kenya. There is time to go and serve him with a notice to appear before a police station. There is no reason why police should be coming to somebody's private residence at this time of the day when people are asleep. If Matiang'i has committed a crime that warrants his arrest, he can go and present himself at a police station for interrogation and record a statement," said Raila.

During the night press briefing, more lawyers showed up following reports of the raid. According to another lawyer Sammy Iberi, former CS Matiang'i called him.

"We have been called by our client that he has been threatened, that his life is in danger because police are coming to arrest him in the night. For starters, there is a procedure that is followed when police officers investigate or are having a person of interest [whom] to investigate. They summon that person to a police station and do a statement under inquiry where they have to state that they have reason to believe that the person of interest is involved in the commission of a crime which they declare.

At that time, then they ask this person to state what he knows about the case they are investigating. But in this instance, from two o'clock, three o'clock thereabouts, we have been told that police officers are coming. What they are coming to do, is what we don't know. They have not declared what they want or what interest they have in Dr. Matiang'i," said Iberi.

"We do not understand why, in the dead of the night, police can arm themselves to come and arrest our client in the dead of the night and disturb his sleep," said Iberi.

In 2018, through an executive order, President Uhuru Kenyatta handed Fred Matiang'i sweeping powers to oversee state operations, signalling his confidence in the Interior Cabinet Secretary.

In his new role, Dr Matiang'i chaired a key committee on the implementation of development programmes, whose membership included all Cabinet secretaries, the Attorney General and the Head of the Public Service, a mandate that a Government insider said essentially elevates him to a "prime minister or chief minister."

The president's move, however, drew mixed reactions from a cross-section of leaders with some of Deputy President William Ruto allies saying it could be a move to undermine the DP.

The president delegated the powers to Matiang'i in an Executive Order that for the first time handed a CS an expansive responsibility to chair and coordinate government.

More was in store. In 2020 President Uhuru Kenyatta issued Executive Order NO.1 of 2020 - Organization of Government which elicited debate among lawyers, with some arguing that he had abolished the "sharing aspect" of the presidency with his deputy William Ruto.

The Executive Order superseded the 2018 edict. It did not escape notice that Executive Order No. 1 of 2018 was issued by "The Presidency" hence the debate.

The 2018 Executive Order also named the officeholders and functions of The Presidency while the 2020 one presented the same under "The Executive Office of The President." This could have been a matter of semantics but, all the same, a debate was up in the air.

"In exercise of the powers conferred by Article 132 (3) (b) of the Constitution, as read with all other enabling Laws, I, Uhuru Kenyatta, President and Commander-in-Chief of the Kenya Defence Forces, order and direct: that this Order supersedes Executive Order No. 1 of 2018 (Revised) issued in July 2018," read the document.

In the wake of the new order, lawyer Donald Kipkorir said it would massively affect the operation of the office of Deputy President.

Although Deputy President Ruto remained in the government throughout Uhuru's term, the relations between the two were so cold that Matiang'i appeared to be the de facto number two.

When former President Uhuru Kenyatta went to condole with the family of the late Education CS Prof George Magoha last week, he was accompanied by a retinue of his former cabinet secretaries, among them Dr. Matinag'i who criticised the Ruto regime for taking credit for projects that were initiated by the Uhuru administration.

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