Sunday, May 19, 2024

I’m no killer, land grabber – DP Ruto

Deputy President William Ruto.Photo/ENOS TECHE

Deputy President William Ruto has defended himself against accusations of land grabbing, involvement in extrajudicial killings and the murder of anti-government whistle-blower Jacob Juma.

In court documents filed on Monday, Ruto fired the latest salvo in his venomous war of words with activist Boniface Mwangi. The fireworks include the DP’s repudiation of the term ‘hustler’ used by Mwangi to describe him. Mwangi resents the DP implying — though not stating specifically — that he is a drunkard.

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On Monday Ruto said, “The plaintiff (Ruto) denies he has a serious leadership role in the design and implementation of a policy of extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances.”

In an affidavit filed by lawyer Kioko Kilukumi, the DP said Mwangi’s claims he was involved in Juma’s murder and that he is corrupt and stole public land are malicious, ludicrous and meant to injure his reputation.

“I have been an innocent purchaser for value, a long-standing darling of the law of equity,” he said.

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The activist has accused the DP of a range of criminal misconduct, including corruption and land theft.

The DP has sued Mwangi for defamation and demanded apology. Mwangi refuses to say sorry, arguing Ruto has no sterling reputation to tarnish.

Mwangi filed a counter-claim and sought from the KRA and the EACC the DP’s tax returns, wealth declarations and list of companies he owns or has interests in. He wants the information to defend against the defamation suit.

Yesterday, the KRA rejected Mwangi’s request, saying individual tax returns are confidential.

Juma, a notorious gadfly with many enemies in government, was shot dead on May 6 as he drove to his home in Karen. No one has been arrested, speculation abounds, police say the trail has gone cold.

Months before he was killed, Juma tweeted, suggesting Ruto planned to assassinate him.

On Monday, Ruto said the tweet does not amount in law to a dying declaration and is inadmissible in court.

While describing Mwangi as “a rabble-rouser camouflaged as a public spirited individual”, the DP says regardless of his state office, he is entitled to human dignity and to have that dignity respected and protected.

The DP sued Mwangi for defamation for linking him to Juma’s death in a tweet posted on September 28.

In his affidavit, Mwangi alleged Ruto has been involved in corrupt land deals, notably those bordering KCAA land. He said Ruto admitted to owning the prestigious Weston Hotel, which he said is built on public land in Wilson Airport flight path.

“The plaintiff (Ruto) was mentioned in grabbing of prison land and processional way from State House to Uhuru Park,” Mwangi’s affidavit said.

Ruto denied the allegations and says Mwangi must provide strict proof.

“I have not been involved in land deals enumerated,” he said.

The DP said the land in question was acquired by a corporate body in which he is a legal shareholder and acquisition was legal.

He said Mwangi’s suggestion he is guilty based on his ICC indictment for crimes against humanity is misleading and meant to aggravate the defamation.

“The findings of the ICC pre-trial chamber were merely procedural to determine whether or not a trial should take place to determine my innocence or guilt,” he adds.

The case collapsed for lack of evidence but the ICC said Ruto had not been acquitted and said there had been extensive political interference and witness tampering.

Ruto, who for years proudly styled himself a ‘hustler’ who made his own fortune, takes offence at the “derogatory hustler title’ applied by Mwangi.

“The name hustler as used in today’s sheng refers to “sufferer”, whereas in sheng it means a ‘safara’, which means struggling to make ends,”Ruto says.

According to him, the word hustler dates back to 1825 and is wholly inapplicable to him when he uses the word to describe his background.

Ruto rejects Mwangi’s claim he defamed the activist by implying (though not naming Mwangi) he is a perpetual drunk who wakes up late to nurse a hangover. The DP made the comments on a broadcast programme.

“A careful review of the words used will confirm that I referred to a class or group of people who spend extraordinary amount of time on social media and drinking without engaging in any productive work capable of earning them an income or underwriting their living expenses” he says.

The DP wants the activist’s counter-claim dismissed, saying whatever Mwangi alleges does not constitute fair comment, value judgement, opinion and cannot be justifiable.

In his affidavit, Mwangi claimed Ruto has been mentioned in many scandals. He cites the Sh103 million maize scandal unearthed in 2010 by an audit firm.

“In light of publications against him, Ruto has failed to live by standards of conduct demanded of him by leadership and integrity provisions of the Constitution, the Leadership and Integrity Act and Public Officers and Ethics Act,” Mwangi said.

He wants Ruto declared unfit to hold office.

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