Storm as Ruto’s elite guard is replaced by AP officers

Friday, August 27th, 2021 00:00 |
Deputy President William Ruto’s Karen residence where General Service Unit officers were withdrawn yesterday. Photo/PD/Kenna Claude

Anthony Mwangi and Zadock Angira

A storm yesterday erupted after the General Service Unit (GSU) officers assigned to guard the residences of Deputy President William Ruto were replaced with those from the Administration Police Service’s Security of Government Buildings Unit.

While Inspector General of Police Hillary Mutyambai termed the move a normal re-assignment to “enhance efficiency and effectiveness”, the DP said the move was “in bad faith”.

“The Security of Government Buildings Unit has been deployed to provide general security to the official residence of the Deputy President from the GSU.

The Presidential Escort Unit continues to provide close protection security to the Deputy President,” Mutyambai said.

The timing of the move elicited uproar from the DP’s allies who termed the decision unlawful and a breach of his security.

They said the withdrawal would not only expose the DP to personal harm but also sabotage and undermine his office.

Curiously, the move comes just a few days after President Uhuru Kenyatta dared his deputy to resign if he was dissatisfied with the way the government was being run.

Ruto’s spokesman David Mugonyi said the withdrawal extended to all of his residences in rural Sugoi home in Uasin Gishu county, his Elgon View estate in Eldoret town and his private residence in Karen, Nairobi.

“At this stage, no explanation has been offered for the strange and unlawful decision.

The decision has been made contrary to police standing orders that the GSU commandant shall be responsible for the security of the President, the deputy President, State Houses and lodges,” Mugonyi said.

Mugonyi said the move was the latest in a “sustained and systematic effort to undermine the DP personal security in pursuit of political vendetta, and was consistent with a strategy to expose the DP to personal harm”.

“This diabolical demonstration of bad faith runs back to 2017 when, at the height of campaigns, a gunman forced his way to the Deputy President’s rural home in Sugoi, injured a GSU officer and laid siege for several hours,” he said.

At 3.22pm, a new team of 15 officers drawn from the AP arrived at the Karen residence where a brief handing over routine was conducted before taking over from their GSU counterparts.

La Mada

Initial reports had indicated the guards had been withdrawn but it was later clarified they had only been replaced.

Information on the Kenya Police website says the GSU is tasked with “providing security to His Excellency the President, State Houses and lodges.” 

Unlike before, guarding the DP is not listed as one of the functions.

Most of Ruto’s allies blamed the President for the changes.

Speaking to senior editors of mainstream media houses at State House, Nairobi on Monday night, the President said the deputy has the of quitting instead of criticising a government he is part of. 

“The desperation of the criminal enterprise operating from the Office of the President is exceeding all limits of decency and abuse of power.

The DP’s security is a matter of national interest considering that not too long ago part of this criminal enterprise’s plans at hotel La Mada came to light,” said Kikuyu MP Kimani Ichung’wah.

He said replacing the GSU with AP officers who are not trained in combat, urban warfare and VIP protection was definitely suspect, adding that the government was planning to plant compliant officers who would easily be manipulated by the State agents to cause harm to the DP.

Kapseret MP Oscar Sudi accused Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i of being behind the changes.

Jubilee Party vice chairman David Murathe has in the past hinted that plans were underway to “evict” the DP from the Karen residence commonly known as the “hustler mansion”. 

Nairobi Senator Johnson Sakaja warned the IG to “leave politics to politicians”.

“Withdrawing the GSU from protecting the Deputy President is unlawful, unnecessary and reckless. The IG, and CS Interior should stop such games,” he said.

Nandi Senator Samson Cherargei said change of guard at his home, official and private residences is part of the wider scheme by some bureaucrats to force Kenyans to vote in certain ways.

First Family

“These are frustrations doomed to fail, remember the DP was chased from his Mombasa residence, his functions given to CS Matiang’i and his allies persecuted through fabricated charges,” Cherargei told People Daily.

In June, the security detail guarding President Uhuru Kenyatta, Ruto and their families were separated from a central command.

Since the administration assumed office in 2013, the guards have been operating as a unit and were deployed interchangeably.

Following the separation, the guards attached to the First Family now report directly to the State House while those attached to Ruto report to his official Karen residence.

Though some officials said the measures were to tame the spread of Coronavirus, sources said it was due to the escalating tension between the two that has been deteriorating since 2018.

The Presidential Security Unit was initially tasked with providing security to the President, the First Family, retired presidents, Deputy President, visiting heads of State and any other VIP as may be directed by the IG.

However, after the June 2019 restructuring of the National Police Service, some functions were transferred to other police formations.

The Anti-Stock Theft Unit, for example, was moved from the Kenya Police Service to the AP Service.

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