A court has been offered video and audio recordings purportedly exposing a plot to assassinate Deputy President William Ruto.
Dennis Itumbi, the Secretary of Digital Media at State House, but who lately works from the DP’s office, yesterday sensationally told a Nairobi court he was in possession of the recordings of the alleged meeting at La Mada Hotel off Thika Road in Nairobi.
“I have an audio and a video recording of material that could show, subject to the investigations, that a meeting could have happened at a place called La Mada, at which discussions were held on possibility of assassination of a member of my employer, particularly the Deputy President of the Republic of Kenya. I request to play the audio-video content in court, in camera,” said Itumbi.
He made the statement in his replying affidavit to an application by the police to detain him further as investigations continued into a letter detective termed as fake, which sparked off claims of a plot to kill Ruto.
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Itumbi, who was arrested on Wednesday, and who will remain in custody for five more days, told the court the police had pressured him to admit he had authored and posted online the letter purporting to be from a Cabinet secretary exposing the conspiracy against the DP.
Three Cabinet secretaries - Joe Mucheru (ICT), Peter Munya (Trade and East African Community) and Sicily Kariuki (Health) - who were named in the letter as having attended the meetings at La Mada, were summoned to the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) headquarters.
They denied claims of a plot to assassinate Ruto and declined to record statements until the complainant – whom they quoted the police as informing them was the DP – had made a substantive statement.
Yesterday, Itumbi claimed that he feared for his life after his alleged forced confession.
Milimani Senior Resident Magistrate Zainab Abdul allowed DCI officers to hold Itumbi for five days to allow them to conclude investigations into the source of the letter.
In court, Itumbi’s lawyers Moses Chelang’a and Katwa Kigen argued that the arrest was politically instigated.
“They have already concluded that the letter was fake. Why then do they want to investigate something which they know is fake?” Mr Chelang’a argued.
Mr Katwa informed the court that his client was being forced to admit that he posted the letter.
The court heard Itumbi declined to cooperate with investigators.
Itumbi argued against his detention at Kamukunji Police Station saying hardcore criminals are held there. He reiterated that he feared for his life because he was in “bad books” with DCI boss George Kinoti and Interior Principal Secretary Karanja Kibicho.
Meanwhile, two mobile phones confiscated from a man named as Samuel after his arrest on July 2 led detectives to Itumbi.
In an affidavit filed in court in support of the application to hold Itumbi, lead investigator Yvonne Anyango told the court that after searching the phones, she found that Itumbi had shared the letter containing the threat to kill his boss in a WhatsApp group named Tanga Tanga Movement.
“Pursuant to the perusal of the said WhatsApp group, the purported letter allegedly emanating from ‘Cabinet Secretary’ was recovered as having being posted by the respondent (Itumbi) in the said WhatsApp group on June 20, 2019,” Anyango said.
The WhatsApp group, which was created on July 8, 2018, has 256 members who are being sought by the police to record statements. Its members include some governors and MPs.
Yesterday, MPs associated with the political outfit that is drumming up support for Ruto’s 2022 State House bid, including Oscar Sudi, Didmus Barasa, Caleb Kositani and Kimani Ichung’wa, were present in court in solidarity with Itumbi.
The court heard that investigators need time to go through Itumbi’s communication gadgets and also seek information from mobile phone services companies.
Separately in Parliament, over a dozen lawmakers allied to the Kieleweke faction, which brings together Jubilee party and ODM members opposed to Ruto’s presidential bid, demanded that Ruto apologises or resigns over what they described as a false assassination plot. The MPs demanded that Ruto takes responsibility for the claims and fake letter.
The lawmakers said responsibility stopped with Ruto, whom they accused of using the death claims to shore up his 2022 presidential bid.
“As MPs interested in seeking a united country, we demand that the DP takes personal responsibility for the fear and concern that the false allegations created among Kenyans based on ethnic identity; the emergence of inter-ethnic tensions due to ethnic profiling of the purported assassins, and the fact that such a false claim would easily have destabilised the nation and caused bloodshed,” the lawmakers said in their statement read by Limuru MP Peter Mwathi.
“The DP should be probed to ascertain what he knew about this fake assassination plot... we want to urge the Judiciary to treat this issue with the seriousness that it deserves. Anyone proven to have been involved must therefore face the full force of the law so that a message is sent that any Kenyan, whatever their office, will not be allowed to use their offices or access to power to divide Kenyans and cause instability and violence especially for political purposes,” the statement read.
Others at the press conference were Paul Koinange (Kiambaa), Ngunjiri Wambugu (Nyeri Town), William Kamket (Tiaty), Wangari Mwaniki (Kigumo), Silas Tiren (Moiben), Muturi Kigano (Kangema) and Mercy Gakuya (Kasarani).
They were joined by Simba Arati (Dagoretti North), Babu Owino (Embakasi East), Zulekha Hassan (Kwale Woman Rep), Joshua Mwalyo (Masinga), Teddy Mwambire (Ganze), Elisha Odhiambo (Gem), Paul Abuor (Rongo), Caleb Amisi (Saboti), Jared Okello (Nyando), Ken Chonga (Kilifi South), Richard Onyonka (Kitutu Chache South) and Peter Masara (Suna West).
“We are dealing with a very dangerous situation brought about by the DP. The card he is playing is very dangerous. We want the owner of the dog to be taken in and questioned. If it is proved that the whole affair originated from the DP, he should resign immediately. He must be held politically and criminally responsible for this matter,” Mr Kamket said.
“As Kenyans, we cannot accept a person of the stature of the DP ‘to commit suicide’. We will stop him through all necessary means. We will ask the police to be on the lookout so that we do not lose an important person. Suicide is a criminal offence and one can be taken to court,” said Mr Arati.
“A little spark can have a lot of consequences. It is an embarrassment on an international scale that the DP’s life can be in danger,” said Ms Zulekha.
“The DCI should ensure that all those involved are arrested so that we get to the bottom of this matter. We would like to know the truth. We don’t want politics of chaos and incitement,” said Mr Onyonka.
“The fact that he did not record a statement shows that he had ulterior motives,” Mr Mwambire said.