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ASSASSINATION LETTER

Spare Ruto the crap in Itumbi saga

He was hired by State House and remains an employee under the presidency, headed by Uhuru.

In Summary

• It is the presidency that should own up to Itumbi’s goofs, and not the Deputy President. That is the bare truth.

Dennis Itumbi
HELD: Dennis Itumbi
Image: EZEKIEL AMING'A

Former Ugandan President Milton Obote reportedly told President Moi after he was overthrown by Idi Amin on January 25, 1971, that he deeply regretted having employed and trusted Amin.

He described Amin as a murderous uneducated man. Obote, who led Uganda to Independence from Britain in 1962 and became the country’s first elected leader, owned up to his mistake and did not pass the buck.

A more or less similar script is playing out in Kenya revolving around the arrest of blogger Dennis Itumbi for allegedly faking a letter revealing a plot to assassinate Deputy President William Ruto.

Even before police conclude investigations, there have been calls by some Jubilee and ODM MPs for Ruto to take responsibility for the letter, with the media wrongly referring to Itumbi as his aide.  

The DP’s detractors claim that there is no way Ruto could have been in the dark and more than 20 of them have asked him to apologise and resign.

Whereas the court will determine the merits or demerits of Itumbi’s case, there are salient facts that Kenyans need to know.

His previous goofs are well known. For instance, on November 26, 2014, he committed a faux pas when he posted pictures of Uhuru returning from a tour of Abu Dhabi as the country mourned victims of a terror attack in Mandera. He later contradicted the then Interior Cabinet Secretary, Joseph Nkaissery, by claiming police officers had lost their lives in the Yumbis attack even though the CS insisted no lives were lost.

First, Itumbi was hired by State House and remains an employee under the presidency, whose head is President Uhuru Kenyatta.

Itumbi, alongside other Presidential Strategic Communications Unit (PSCU) senior directors were kicked out of State House for repeatedly embarrassing the presidency and waging a six-year war against their former boss, Manoah Esipisu.

The directors, James Kinyua (Events and Branding), Edward Irungu (Press), Munyori Buku (External Communications and Media), Eric Ng’eno (Speechwriting and Research) and Itumbi (Digital, New Media and Diaspora), were deployed to the Office of the President, Harambee House, after Uhuru refused to appoint one of them to head the PSCU.

State House hired Citizen TV news anchor Kanze Dena as deputy spokesperson and later confirmed her to the position of State House spokesperson and head of PSCU. The decision was conveyed by Chief of Staff Nzioka Waita.

 

Dena then released a list of official accounts through which the presidency would communicate online, rendering Itumbi irrelevant.

At Harambee House, the five directors found there was not enough room and that is how they ended up at Harambee Annex. Harambee Annex, which also houses the DP’s office, falls under the presidency alongside State House and the adjacent Harambee House.

In short, Itumbi, who landed a job at the PSCU for campaigning for Uhuru, remains on the presidency’s payroll and that’s where the buck starts and ends.

His previous goofs are well known. For instance, on November 26, 2014, he committed a faux pas when he posted pictures of Uhuru returning from a tour of Abu Dhabi as the country mourned victims of a terror attack in Mandera.

He later contradicted the then Interior Cabinet Secretary, Joseph Nkaissery, by claiming police officers had lost their lives in the Yumbis attack even though the CS insisted no lives were lost.

Itumbi, a career blogger, made a name for himself at the height of the ICC cases against Uhuru and Ruto. On March 22, 2012, he was arrested in Embu and detained at Muthaiga police station on claims he had hacked into the ICC website. The case was dropped for lack of evidence.

Itumbi is not an official of the Strategic Research Unit (SRU) based at Harambee House Annex under Ken Osinde.

Perhaps calls for Ruto to resign would have been credible if the assassination letter was authored by Communication Secretary David Mugonyi. It is the presidency that should own up to Itumbi’s goofs, and not the Deputy President. That is the bare truth.

Farmers Party leader