His murder was as mysterious as his lifestyle. Kipyegon Kenei (pictured), the head of security at the office Kenya’s Deputy President led a life that confounded even close colleagues.
Little wonder, when he was found murdered on February 25, some of them had no idea he lived at Twiga Court in Imara Daima estate, Nairobi.
Kenei had an official residence in Shauri Moyo at the highly-guarded Administration Police (AP) camp, which was commissioned by the late Internal Security minister, Prof George Saitoti, in August 2010.
Being a senior officer attached to a VIP like Deputy President William Ruto meant Kenei was expected to put up at the much safer AP camp, where he had a two-bedroom house, and not Imara Daima, where he lived in a bedsitter with nothing more than a bed in the way of furniture.
One of his friends told The Nairobian that Kenei could still be alive had he chosen to live at the AP camp in Shauri Moyo, where his safety would have been guaranteed.
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“I know he had a house in Shauri Moyo. On several occasions, he dropped me along Jogoo Road while heading to the camp,” said an officer, who claimed that Kenei had on January 28 requested to be transferred from Harambee Annex.
Kenei was from Security for Government Buildings, which is under the newly-formed Critical Infrastructure Protection Unit (CIPU) but “he didn’t disclose to me why he was seeking redeployment, but he looked reserved and disturbed,” said the officer.
Initial reports indicated that he had committed suicide, a theory that has since been disproved by George Kinoti, the head of the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) who said Kenei’s death “was cold-blooded murder.”
Kinoti has since invited the American Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) to help in probing the murder. The DCI boss was however not immediately available for comment when The Nairobian reached out to him. “Here (in the USA), it is lunch time. Let me finish the afternoon session then I will brief you,” promised Kinoti referring to the FBI executive training where he was one of the trainees.
While Kenyans were shocked that a senior officer working for the second highest office in the land lived in a simple bedsitter, a fellow officer friend scoffed at what Kenyans saw on television, arguing that Kenei was relatively well-off for an AP sergeant, given the number of cars he owned or drove.
An AP officer’s salary oscillates between Sh25,000 and Sh30, 000 for the rank of a sergeant, give or take perks such as allowances for night outs and special assignments. Some postings are also lucrative, like that at the Deputy President’s office.
Before he met his death, Kenei, who once served as a bodyguard to the late Cabinet minister Soita Shitanda, was said (according to his colleagues) to have been in possession of a substantial amount of money. “It seems the killers took the money,” claimed an AP officer with whom the late officer attended the Administration Police Training College (APTC) in Embakasi.
Some in the know intimated to The Nairobian that Kenei was occasionally dispatched abroad on unknown assignments. “I won’t be surprised if his death is connected to many of the deals he was involved in,” claimed another officer who knew him.
Some quarters within the forces are now speculating that the bedsitter at Imara Daima was off Mombasa Road and could thus have come in handy during his deals and trips abroad.
Regarding the foreign trips claim, a senior officer suggested that Kenei’s passport should be examined to establish the countries he flew to, when and for how long he was there. The officer reckons that while investigators have dwelt on phone details which were erased and the CCTV footage from Harambee Annex, his passport can provide “crucial information to those investigating his death. They should find out where he flew to, the purpose of the trips, and the individuals he met.”
While a suicide note and loaded Jericho pistol were found in the house, his colleagues are now questioning why the officer was allowed to carry the gun to the house contrary to standing orders that require the same to be surrendered at the nearest armoury.
However, officers of good conduct are exempted from this requirement and allowed to carry their firearms home, according to a senior officer.
“Nowadays, the rules around gun custody are relaxed. Cognizant of the fact that some officers guarding VIPs sign-off late in the night, we allow those with exemplary discipline to go with their firearms home,” said the officer.
In Kenei’s case, the weapon should either have been kept at Imara Daima Police Post or Mukuru Police Post, both of which are close to where the slain officer lived, according to a senior CIPU officer frustrated that the new housing policy requiring officers to live wherever pleases them is being abused by some of them.
One of the AP commanders complained that, “I am finding it difficult to mobilise officers for emergency assignments. Most of them don’t want their colleagues to know where they live, while others simply switch off their phones. The National Intelligence Service (NIS) should relook afresh into this housing arrangement, especially for junior officers.”
Before his murder, Kenei was lined up for questioning at the DCI in the wake of a Sh39 billion fake arms deal in which unfolded at Ruto’s Harambee Annex office.
DCI officers were probing how former Sports Cabinet Secretary Rashid Echesa allegedly duped foreigners that he could assist them secure a tender for Eco-Advanced Technologies at the Department of Defence (DoD).
Kenei was reportedly in the know regarding the arms deal, in which Sh11.5 million had already been paid out as consultancy fee by the gun runners.
Echesa was arrested alongside Daniel Otieno Omondi, Kennedy Oyoo Mboya and Clifford Okoth, while in the process of sealing the deal.
Kenei went missing a day before presenting himself at the DCI headquarters, where he was scheduled to record a statement on what he knew about the arms deal.
When Kenei went missing, his immediate boss, Joseph Rop, found himself in a dilemma. His frustrations were captured in a letter he wrote to the commandant of the Security of Government Buildings.
“The officer was among the police officers who were required to record statement at DCI headquarters yesterday, 19th February 2020, but he did not show up. The officer is armed with Ceska pistol serial number 43368809 make Jericho. His official mobile number is switched off and his whereabouts is not known. Efforts to trace him from this end have been futile,” wrote Rop.
Kenei’s killers are walking scot free, even as detectives struggle to piece together the jigsaw puzzle that is his murder.
While updating the media on the progress of investigations into incident, Kinoti said it was a premeditated murder aimed at protecting leakage of sensitive information allegedly in the possession of the slain AP officer.
“There is no doubt it was a cold-blood murder. The motive of the murder is very clear. It was simply to safeguard, protect, insuAlate or save the source from the adverse involvement and attendant consequences of using the military procurement process in the most deceitful and fraudulent manner,” said the DCI chief.
Should they succeed to nab the killers, it will be the first time since 1969 for the Kenyan police to unravel a high-profile murder after that of Economic Planning minister Tom Mboya, who was shot by Nahashon Njoroge who confessed that he had been sent by the “big man”.