Deputy President William Ruto’s ghosts from nine years ago are back to haunt him, at a moment when he is facing mounting political pressure from fellow politicians, and the Kenyan electorate, alike.
This is after the government launched a fresh probe into the Kenya Pipeline Company (KPC) land scandal, which was tossed out of court in 2011, over insufficient evidence.
The second in command had, alongside Joshua Kulei and former Baringo Central MP Sammy Mwaita, been accused of swindling KPC out of Ksh272 million, in a deal where Ruto sold an ungazetted parcel of land in Ngong Forest to the oil parastatal.
According to the DP’s lawyer Katwa Kigen, the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) now wants to trace the money exchanged in the fraudulent deal, in which Ruto reportedly received Ksh96 million, afresh.
During investigations conducted before the deputy Jubilee Party leader was acquitted in 2011, it had emerged that one Hellen Chege Njue approved the disbursement of the money from KPC accounts, to Ruto and other alleged beneficiaries in 2001, but the prosecution failed to present her in court to testify, which is the main reason why the heated case flopped.
It also emerged that the embattled DP thereafter appointed Hellen, who at the time of the transaction was serving as KPC’s Finance Manager, to a government position during his tenure as the Minister for Agriculture, during retired President Mwai Kibaki’s regime.
This was in 2009 when she was fixed in the Board of Trustees at the Coffee Development Fund.
Should the re-opened probe against Ruto materialise into a solid case, the DP faces significant damage to his reputation, which was tainted after it was, in 2019, established that a hotel associated with him sits on a grabbed parcel of land belonging to Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA).
The National Lands Commission (NLC) consequently ruled that Weston Hotel should compensate KCAA Ksh350 million for the land along Langa’ta Road in Nairobi.