Drama at airport as Ruto is barred from flying to Uganda
Hillary Mageka @hillarymageka
Deputy President William Ruto was yesterday barred from travelling to Uganda in a dramatic scene at Nairobi’s Wilson Airport after he allegedly failed to seek clearance from the Immigration department.
In what seemed to be an escalation of the falling out between Ruto and his boss President Uhuru Kenyatta, the second-in-command was made to wait for more than four hours for clearance from “above” at the airport’s VIP lounge to no avail.
Reports from his Harambee House Annex office indicated the DP was travelling to Uganda on a one-day private visit to honour an invitation by some unnamed business moguls.
He was to be accompanied by a team of politicians and business people.
“He was headed to Uganda for a private visit,” Ruto’s spokesperson David Mugonyi told People Daily by phone.
Among those scheduled to accompany him were MPs Oscar Sudi (Kapseret), Benjamin Tayari (Kinango) and Ndindi Nyoro (Kiharu), who were the first to arrive at the airport but were blocked by Immigration officers and asked to seek clearance from National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi.
Impeccable sources said the MPs sought Speaker Muturi’s intervention to travel as directed by Immigration officers but it’s alleged Muturi advised the legislators that they did not need his clearance to travel for private engagements.
“Unless on official visit, MPs don’t need clearance from the Speakers,” a source at Parliament said.
With Muturi’s go-ahead, lawmakers Tayari and Nyoro were allowed to travel but Sudi refused to board the plane, protesting alleged mistreatment.
Sudi later travelled in the evening to join his colleagues in Kampala where they gave a joint press statement to condemn what they said was the mistreatment of the DP and the MPs.
First forward, DP Ruto’s aides are called by Immigration officials and informed that their boss won’t be allowed to travel unless cleared by the Ministry of Interior.
It is alleged that the DP questioned whom he should seek clearance from as he only gets permission from the President.
According to sources at Immigration, they were under strict instructions not to allow the DP to travel unless with express authority from Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i, under whose docket the Immigration department falls.
According to a high-ranking official at State House, government procedures demand that all members of the Cabinet, including the DP, wishing to travel out of the country, seek clearance from the President through the Head of Public Service.
Last night, Government Spokesperson Cyrus Oguna said they were preparing a comprehensive statement on the issue.
Taking to his social media pages almost immediately, Sudi said he and his colleagues were held for more than five hours at Wilson Airport together with the DP.
“Our flight was scheduled for midday but the so-called Deep State failed to clear the DP.
Speaker JB Muturi cleared us together with my colleague Ndindi Nyoro since our flight was private,” the Kapsaret lawmaker said.
He went on: “The DP became impatient and left the airport. We were told Uhuru Kenyatta declined to clear his Deputy.”
Kiharu MP Nyoro said: “DP Ruto has been travelling on private visits for the last nine years under this Jubilee administration and has never sought any clearance from anyone.”
“Private visits are normal,” Nyoro told People Daily from Kampala.
Narrating the four-hour ordeal at Wilson Airport, Mugonyi said the DP arrived at airport at 1:45pm and was scheduled to board a flight to Entebbe.
“The Deputy President was told to seek clearance from the Ministry of Interior before travelling,” Mugonyi said, adding that it had never happened before.
“The DP called Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua, who told him that he was not aware of the order allegedly issued by Interior CS Matiang’i that the DP had to seek clearance from the Immigration department,” he said, adding that after a push and pull between Ruto’s aides and Immigration officials, Ruto retreated to his residence in Karen at 5:15pm.
Shedding light on his ordeal, the DP tweeted: “Isorait... tumwachie Mungu. (We leave it to God).”
Ruto has been a constant visitor to Uganda. In 2015, he actively campaigned for Museveni in the districts of Kapchorua and Bukwo in eastern Uganda.
During the campaigns, Uganda’s opposition accused him of meddling in their politics.
In December 2019, Ruto was hosted by Museveni at his Nakasero State House but it was not clear what they discussed in the three-hour meeting where the DP was accompanied by his political lieutenants.
On July 12, Ruto was the chief guest at the laying of the foundation stone for a biological drugs and vaccine manufacturing facility at Matuga-Wakiso District at the invitation of President Museveni.
Last evening , Elgeyo Marakwet Senator Kipchumba Murkomen claimed the government was seeking revenge on the DP for the Jubilee Party loss in the recent Kiambaa by-election.
“The President has blocked the DP from performing his official duties and now he is blocking him from his private engagements. This is a ridiculous show of deep sense of insecurity and tactlessness,” he said.