Kenya: Sh40 Billion Arms Racket - Defence Ministry Denies Involvement

17 February 2020

The Defence ministry has denied involvement in the Sh40 billion military equipment scandal, that has seen the office of the Deputy President put on the spot and former Sports Cabinet Secretary Rashid Echesa arrested.

Mr Echesa allegedly used DP William Ruto's office to swindle Sh11 million as brokerage fees from directors of Eco Advanced Technologies Company, claiming he could help them win the lucrative tender.

It is also alleged that he forged Defence Cabinet Secretary Monica Juma's signature to convince Eco representatives that it was a government deal.

Mr Echesa was charged on Monday, alongside Daniel Otieno, Clifford Okoth and Kennedy Oyoo, with 12 counts of attempting to defraud the organisation.

They denied all the charges and were released on Sh1 million cash bail each.

MINISTRY'S POSITION

In a statement following Monday's events, the Defence ministry noted that investigators and complainants visited its headquarters in Nairobi to verify presence of the officers they met.

"During the visit, it was established that the complainants have never interacted with any official mandated to represent the Ministry of Defence," Public Communications director Bogita Onderi said in the statement.

He added," All the documents and content displayed in the media, pertaining the matter, never originated from the Ministry of Defence."

The ministry noted use of an elaborate procurement process, guided by Public Procurement and Assets Disposal Act, 2016.

It accused the media of creating a "scandalous and libellous" narrative and said it would seek redress.

SO FAR

Detectives from the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) arrested Mr Echesa last Friday over the fake military equipment tender.

He was arraigned on Friday at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) court, where police sought to detain him for 21 days to complete the investigation.

CCTV footage taken from DP Ruto's office that day positively identified two of his aides as being present on February 13, when Mr Echesa met officials from Echo Advanced Technologies, an American Company, over the deal.

Dr Ruto seemed to agree that the meeting took place but said more people could have been involved in the scam. He has accused his political rivals of launching a smear campaign.

On Monday, Mr Echesa's lawyers asked the court to order release of two vehicles and firearms seized during a search at his home since they were not mentioned in the charge sheet.

They further asked the court to bar Kitui Governor Charity Ngilu, Siaya Senator James Orengo, Francis Atwoli, who is Secretary-General of the Central Organisation of Trade Unions (Cotu), and other politicians from discussing the matter.

The court declined to gag anyone, saying there is freedom of speech.

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