Nairobi — Police have re-opened an investigation on a land fraud case in which Deputy President William Ruto was acquitted in 2010, further deepening woes facing him, amid his position on the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) which appear to have sidelined him.
The DP was charged for defrauding the KenyaPipeline Company through the sale of Ngong Forest land then valued at Sh272 million.
But he was acquitted in the case he faced alongside former aide to former President Daniel arap Moi, Joshua Kulei, and former Lands boss Sammy Mwaita. The two were also acquited.
This week, detectives at the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) re-opened the investigations, by summoning directors of four firms that were linked to the transaction, with the aim of establishing ownership and the entire transaction trail.
Lawyer Katwa Kigen has confirmed that he appeared before the detectives at DCI Headquarters on behalf of the firms. "They asked for documents on the sale transaction and were also interested to know the names of the directors," he said.
When Ruto, at the time serving as Education Minister, and the two others were charged, the prosecution was hard-pressed to prove that they indeed received money from the land transaction, in what led to their acquittal because no evidence was tabled.
They were subsequently acquited by Gilbert Mutembei, a Magistrate who heard and determined their case at the time.
The re-opening of the case comes at a time Ruto is facing turbulent political times, sitting on the opposite side of the brigade pushing or supporting the BBI led by his boss President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga, who made peace with the president in March 2018 when they shook hands at Harambee House, the seat of power at the heart of the capital Nairobi.
From his public statements, Ruto believes that BBI is all about crafting power positions for "a few individuals" understood to mean Odinga who is seen as his main competitor in the 2022 Presidential election.
He has emerged as a harsh critic of the initiative, even criticising the countrywide mobilisation campaigns, which, he said are a "waste of public funds because no one is opposed to the BBI."
But after feeling left out, his allies led by Senate Majority Leader Kipchumba Murkomen have said they will attend the next BBI rally in Mombasa, after missing out in Kisii and Kakamega. Ruto is yet to confirm if he will too attend, having taken part in its launch at the Bomas of Kenya in November where the report was unveiled.
Ruto and his allies have lately emerged as being more in the 'opposition', often critising government policy, including investigations or prosecutions of state officials linked to corruption-like Henry Rotich, who was charged with corruption over Kimwarer and Arror dams, in Elgeyo Marakwet, which the Deputy President insists no money was lost.
The investigation was authorised by the Head of State, who has gone public on many forums, directing the Ethics and Anti Corruption Commission and the DCI to fight corruption, and not spare anyone regardless of their status in office.