TURN STATE WITNESS?

Will Echesa's arrest finish Ruto?

This will arguably end his political career, at least as far as 2022 is concerned

In Summary

• If it’s true as alleged that Echesa was involved in the fake military tender, and lured foreign investors to the Harambee House Annex, then Ruto is in serious political trouble — whether he knew of the scheme or not.

• The saga could be effectively used to politically finish the Deputy President, even if he was not involved at all in this daring scheme.

Former Sports CS Rashid Echesa at JKIA court on February 14.
STATE WITNESS? Former Sports CS Rashid Echesa at JKIA court on February 14.
Image: MERCY MUMO

Former Sports CS Rashid Echesa's arrest and arraignment over fraud has people talking nonstop, even as he claims dirty politics is behind his woes.

His supporters claim his arrest is a ploy to get at Deputy President William Ruto and finish him politically.

But is it? We might never know.

If it’s true as alleged that Echesa was involved in a fake military tender, and lured the foreign investors to Harambee House Annex, then Ruto is in serious political trouble, whether he knew of the scheme or not.

More importantly, the saga could effectively be used to politically finish the Deputy President, even if he was not involved at all in this daring scheme.

Here is why:

First, take the scenario in which Ruto is innocent. It is clear from what the DCI is saying and the charges that Echesa faces long jail time if convicted.

A common tactic used by prosecutors to get evidence against bigger fish is to exert pressure on defendants facing serious jail time to give up their higher-ups who masterminded the crime. 

This is accomplished by dangling reduced or no jail time, if the suspects provide evidence, Thus becoming state witnesses against the mastermind or bigger fish in the crime.

It is also the case where a defendant has agreed to cooperate with the government. He or she can easily lie or make up things to implicate others, especially the bigger fish, hoping this can sweeten their deal.

Ruto could be innocent. But if Echesa sees the only way to avoid a long prison term or avoid prison altogether is to lie about what the DP knew or did, he would do so without a moment’s pause.

Were that the case, the Directorate of Public Prosecutions would have no choice but to open an investigation against Ruto and, if that he does that, the Deputy President will be forced to resign.

That will arguably end his political career, at least for 2022.

Yes, the Tangatanga folks will make noise about how the government is desperately trying to finish their man but that will be drowned out by others, who say good riddance and call it a step in the right direction to fight against corruption and cartels.

If Ruto or those close to him were in any way involved or knew about the fraud — which Ruto denies —then all the prosecution need do is ask and Echesa will sing like a bird against Ruto. Especially now that the DP has distanced himself from Echesa and even referred to him as a fraudster.

The point is that the truth about what happened doesn’t matter now. What does matter is Echesa facing a long prison term. If he were to lie and make up stories against Ruto to save his skin, he would do so.

We’ll never know whether he’s telling the truth or not.

Ordinarily, when defendants turn on their higher-ups or masterminds and tell tales, it is the prosecution’s responsibility to find corroborating evidence to confirm their allegations. That won’t be necessary here.

Ruto need not to be charged and tried: It’s enough for the DPP to open an investigation against him to politically finish him.

Samuel Omwenga is a legal analyst and political commentator