There was a security scare at State House in Nairobi when a Ruiru-based businessman breached protocol and dramatically drove into the official residence of the President.
Following the incident, security around the president has now been enhanced whenever he is on the move.
The businessman’s car joined the presidential motorcade soon after the funeral of Juja MP Francis Waititu on Tuesday last week.
Twenty minutes later, he was at State House unnoticed.
President Uhuru Kenyatta’s security only realised there was trouble after the man’s car breached protocol inside State House and drove past the President’s official car as the Head of State alighted.
No car is supposed to be on the move when the president alights or boards his car.
Even though the businessman was known to the security, they were concerned about how he managed to breach the security movements to find his way to State House.
State House and police headquarters refused to comment on the matter.
But an official said the issue had been handled elsewhere and “solved.”
According to officials aware of the drama, the businessman’s driver was sandwiched by the president’s security detail.
In a presidential escort team, there is inner, centre and outer circles
The inner team is the one which knows who is in the president’s car or which car is next to his.
“They are core and can do anything to protect the president’s car. No car is allowed there and they are always in communication,” said an official aware of the arrangements.
The centre team is supposed to also know which car is following or ahead of the inner one while the outer one clears the way in general.
When the motorcade left Juja, the businessman and his driver joined.
He told police by the time they reached Githurai that his car was a few meters away from that of the President as the convoy cruised towards the city centre.
At some point, the hawkeyed presidential escort team noticed his car and tried to block it but were distracted by locals who had lined up to have a glimpse of the motorcade.
The convoy cruised through Thika Road, Wangari Maathai Road, Uhuru Highway, Nyerere Road, Processional Way and into State House.
On reaching the State House gate, the driver of the businessman said he saw it open and drove through. He was following the other cars.
He however did not know one is not supposed to overtake cars within State House for security reasons.
He raised eyebrows when he drove past a designated area where the president’s official car stops at the main entrance of State House for him to alight.
This prompted the president’s security men to grab the businessman who was alighting and driver before whisking them away.
They were briefly “questioned and debriefed” before they were handed over to Kilimani police led by the police boss Vitalis Otieno who interrogated them further.
According to police, the incident was an oversight on the side of the driver and his boss.“They apologised and were remorseful after learning they had breached the protocol,” said an official aware of the developments.
Apparently, there were other politicians from Kiambu who had joined the convoy up to State House but were aware of the protocol.
They were later ushered to a room for a meeting with the President after being vetted and had used a different entrance, officials said.
The driver and his boss were released from the police unconditionally at about 8pm after the Office of the President was informed of the drama.
In the presidential convoy, the lead car is usually the local head of traffic followed by the regional commander.
At least five motorbikes lead the way forming a v-shaped convoy. Then the presidential escort team follows with at least three cars, which carry assorted weapons with the commander in tow.
Thereafter, two other cars with security personnel follow with those of the president in tow. Behind the president’s cars which at times are two and look similar are two others carrying his security personnel.
Then there are three others with more security men followed by an ambulance and a land cruiser carrying Recce commandos.
President Kenyatta’s security is occasionally enhanced whenever he is on the move depending on the nature of threats on the ground. To enable the presidential escort team to identify each other whenever they are in the field, they wear specially issued badges.
Former Recce Company Commandant Josephat Mbuthia Kirimi is the current commandant of the Presidential Escort Unit. He has been in the position since 2018 when he replaced the current Deputy Inspector General of police Edward Mbugua.
He did not respond to our calls over the incident. The Presidential Escort Unit is a full-fledged team, which can handle the movement of the president and his family anytime.
They however usually get the help of the local police whenever the president visits. As part of security measures, they don’t allow armed police officers especially those with rifles at the events apart from their members.