In Kimeru, one can summarise it as “ari mutine jukuura”, that is, “he is sheltering under a leaking tree”. That might be one way of illustrating the story of Meru Senator Franklin Mithika Linturi and the many problems he has.
Over the past few years, Mr Linturi’s has been a life of seeking anticipatory stoppage of prosecution, attending explosive divorce case proceedings, suing to retain his academic papers, and criminal charges hovering above his head.
Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i told a Senate committee in May that Mr Linturi had at least 37 criminal charges lined up against him following investigations into various issues, chiefly the obtaining of a loan using suspected falsified documents.
Troubles land on him from various directions, and one might say the senator has problems from here to Akachiu, that unassuming location in Meru County where he got his primary education.
But regardless of the issues that line up, he always has a fightback. He always has a missile to fire in retaliation.
For instance, in the latest case in which he is accused of sexually assaulting someone’s wife at a Nanyuki resort in January — he calls it an extortion plot.
“There are cartels being used to extort and blackmail people and they are now being used by state operatives through KRA (Kenya Revenue Authority) and EACC (Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission) because of my political ambitions,” Mr Linturi told radio host Maina Kageni yesterday.
And when Ms Maryanne Kitany, the former chief of staff at the Office of the Deputy President, told a court during a divorce case hearing that they had been married, Mr Linturi refuted it, saying she had asked to be accommodated temporarily in one of his houses.
Never mind he was later barred from visiting a house in Runda in which he had been living with Ms Kitany.
Sometimes, he gives no excuses; he just refuses to comment. Such was the case in 2018 when Edith Kananu, who used to be a domestic worker in the senator’s home in Maua, Igembe South, fell ill at the home and later died at Maua Methodist Hospital.
Kananu was buried days later without a post-mortem being conducted and when the Nation contacted Mr Linturi for a comment when the woman’s relatives raised questions, his answer was: “No comment.”
The latest controversy has, however, drawn many comments from the senator. His accusers say that at 3am on January 29, he entered a room at the resort where the woman was sleeping and joined her in bed. She assumed it was her husband who had returned until someone knocked at the door and when she opened it, found her husband standing there. They realised that the man in the bed was a stranger whom they would later identify as Mr Linturi.In Mr Linturi’s view, it was a kidnap.
“Characters not known to me abducted me and asked for money, which I didn’t have. They asked for Sh1 million. They stripped me and took nude photos of me,” he told the radio host in a phone interview.
“I went to the police station and got a P3 and reported under an OB number,” he said. “I am always the first complainant and they turn me into a suspect because they bring politics into it.”
Mr Linturi has already applied to a court to stop his prosecution over that controversial turn of events and the total is a muddied picture of what might and might not have happened.
The other explanation he has given to the latest controversy is that his political detractors are targeting him because of his political affiliation — that is his support for Deputy President William Ruto.
Franklin D Roosevelt, his namesake who was the US president from 1933 to 1945, famously said that there are no accidents in politics. The lawmaker will probably want to hang on to that, but some might accuse him of not being too far from causing accidents himself.
Ms Kitany, for instance, once filed a complaint with the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) alleging that he had brought goons and police officers to eject her from their Runda home.
Mr Linturi’s penchant for anticipatory bail applications might also point to a man who doesn’t like accidents or surprises — in politics or elsewhere. Through lawyers, he has tried many times to obtain anticipatory bail. In March, for instance, he was at the High Court seeking a stoppage of his imminent arrest in connection with Sh530 million borrowed using property belonging to Ms Kitany as collateral.
But Justice Weldon Korir did not immediately issue the order as pleaded, which left Mr Linturi exposed. A month later, during debate on the Building Bridges Initiative Bill in the Senate, he told some colleagues that he was being arrested due to his political views on the document. Senate proceedings were halted following the news.
That is when Dr Matiang’i later told MPs, after being summoned, that Mr Linturi faced up to 37 charges that included giving false information to a person employed in the public service, conspiracy to defraud, forgery, impersonation, obtaining credit by false pretence, fraudulently procuring the registration of a charge document and intent to defraud.
“The 37 counts are all criminal charges investigated and approved for prosecution,” Dr Matiang’i said, noting that this stemmed from a complaint made on November 1, 2018 that some people had forged minutes of a company’s board of directors meeting and replaced some officials. The new officials would later take a loan.
Matters of the heart, politics and finances are the rain falling ferociously on Mr Linturi. And the politician, with his explanations that are like a leaking tree, is often left exposed.
That he follows his heart to extreme heights is not new. In 2014, when he was supposed to table a Motion to impeach then-Devolution and Planning Cabinet Secretary Anne Waiguru over corruption allegations, he was instead in Naivasha, as claimed by Ms Kitany in court. And that impeachment Motion died on a technicality.
“When the impeachment motion was first tabled in Parliament, Linturi and I were at Lake Naivasha Sopa Lodge, having a good time,” Ms Kitany said in court.
Now there is a sexual assault scandal brewing, and Mr Linturi admitted on the radio yesterday that he was not very sober that night.
“I had taken a drink; quite an amount. And I am being honest because I don’t believe in telling a lie,” he told Maina Kageni.
It seems that problems may soon cease raining and start pouring on the senator.