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Fake assassination letter comes to haunt DP Ruto’s aides

Director of Digital Communication in the Office of the President Dennis Itumbi speaks at the The East Africa Digital Marketing Summit in held in April 9, 2015. [File, Standard].

A senior State House communications director who works from Deputy President William Ruto’s office has been arrested over a letter that sparked claims of an assassination plot.

Mr Dennis Itumbi, who is a digital director in the communications department of the presidency, was picked up from a city restaurant yesterday afternoon and driven to the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) headquarters for questioning about the letter alleging a plot against Ruto.

The allegations saw three Cabinet secretaries from Mt Kenya region summoned by detectives for questioning.

Itumbi has lately been operating from the Deputy President’s Harambee House Annex Building, from where he has stepped up publicity campaigns for Ruto.

Itumbi was later held at Muthaiga Police Station where another suspect picked on Tuesday is being detained. 

Itumbi told The Standard that he declined to record a statement, adding that he had nothing to say about the matter.

Another arrest

Earlier on Tuesday evening, another blogger identified only as Sam was picked up in the city centre for questioning about the letter.

At the DCI offices along Kiambu Road, Itumbi told The Standard that he had demanded to speak to his lawyer, Moses Chelang’a, who arrived moments before his scheduled interrogation.

Itumbi explained he had exercised his right to remain silent and that his lawyer had advised him not to make any statement until the police disclosed reasons for his arrest.

“On the advice of my lawyer, I have not recorded any statement and will not do so until the police disclose why they arrested me,” he said on the telephone from Muthaiga Police Station.

His lawyer said he had not yet been told what charges police intend to prefer against Itumbi.

“We don’t know the charges yet. We are working to see if he can be released on a police bond,” said Mr Chelang’a.

However, the police said they plan to charge the two suspects with publishing false information.

Itumbi narrated how 14 police officers in three cars arrested him while he was having lunch at Charlie Bistro restaurant on Wabera Street in the central business district.

Five of the officers introduced themselves as detectives from the DCI and asked him to accompany them. He requested to be allowed to finish his lunch but they declined, only allowing him to take away his meal.

He was then led outside the restaurant where three cars were waiting and driven to the DCI headquarters.

On arrival, he was ushered to a boardroom where 11 detectives asked to take a statement from him. 

Preliminary investigations by the DCI have showed that the letter that sparked the DP’s assassination claims was fake.

The probe showed the letter was uploaded on Twitter and other social media platforms at a cyber café in Karen area, Nairobi.

Police said the two suspects are under investigation to determine if they are linked to the matter that is threatening to split the Executive.

Detention request

Detectives handling the matter say they might move to court to seek permission to detain the two as they continue with investigations.

A team of detectives handling the probe had last week visited the cyber café in Karen and picked a number of documents that they believed could help them in the probe.

Earlier, police had sought help from the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) to help them establish the source of the letter. The US-based investigative agency is said to have submitted a preliminary report, leading to the arrests.

The DCI wants to establish the motive of whoever circulated the letter and where it was printed.

But the arrest of Itumbi elicited a protest from Ruto’s ally and Senate Majority Leader Kipchumba Murkomen who claimed it was a diversionary tactic.

“Arrest of Itumbi is a strategy to divert attention. Was there a meeting? Did PS in charge of DCI say Ruto must be stopped Saitoti way? Who complained about assassination? And to who? The authenticity of the allegations are more important than a letter,” said Murkomen in a tweet.

Last week, Murkomen had called for thorough investigations into the alleged plot against Ruto, warning that assassination claims, if not properly addressed, can stir animosity.

“This is not just a small thing, in developed jurisdictions, Parliament should have stopped its activities and discussed this matter, including calls for forensic investigations.

“The issue is so serious that we should not only focus on the authenticity of the letter but the authenticity of the allegations too. People take assassination complaints seriously because there is a background to it,” he said.

 

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