Dennis Itumbi, a presidential communications aide, was this morning charged in a Nairobi court with authoring an “alarming” letter purporting to reveal an assassination scheme against the nation’s deputy leader.
Mr. Itumbi will be held in custody in Muthaiga Police cells for the next five days after the Court rejected the prosecution’s request for a 14-day detention period to allow completion of investigations.
In a case likely to touch on constitutional liberties, the State charged Mr. Itumbi with violation of Section 357 of the Penal Code which outlaws authoring or signing documents in another person’s name without authorization with the aim of deceiving or defrauding others.
The Directorate of Public Prosecutions in an application to the Chief Magistrate’s Court, Milimani Division, says Mr. Itumbi unlawfully made a document purportedly signed “cabinet secretary” that he initially distributed on a political WhatsApp group called “Tanga Tanga Movement” which he administers.
The said letter allegedly implicates four Kenyan cabinet members with a plot to “finish” Kenya’s deputy President William Ruto.
Dr. Ruto is expected to run for the nation’s highest seat when current President Uhuru Kenyatta completes his term in the year 2022 and must by law, retire.
Heightened clamour for political supremacy ahead of 2022 has seen rival political groupings emerge and disinformation campaigns on social media platforms intensify.
The Criminal Investigations Directorate in supporting documents said they intend to summon the 256 members of the said Tanga Tanga WhatsApp group to record statements.
The affidavit did not mention how the investigators intend to circumvent privacy laws. Article 31 of the Constitution says every person has the right not to have the privacy of their communications infringed.
Mr. Itumbi is employed in the Office of the President as a State House Director of Digital and Media Communication, he says in his replying affidavit.
He says he has been coerced to admit to authoring the said letter and posting it on the Tanda Tanga WhatsApp group which he says he declined.
He has instead asked to be allowed to table video and audio evidence that would shed light on the alleged plot against his employer, the Deputy President.
Both the President and Deputy President’s offices fall under The Presidency.