- Mr Muturi was Mr Kenyatta’s personal assistant from 2002 to 2013 when he paved the way for the President’s nephew, Mr Jomo Gecaga.
- The source indicated that Mr Muturi’s role remains undefined and until the Executive Order Number 1 2018 is released.
Of all the appointments made by President Uhuru Kenyatta when he reconstituted his government recently, none raised eyebrows like the sacking of his long-time right hand man Njee Muturi from the powerful post of Solicitor-General to a less visible role at State House.
First appointed by President Kenyatta on June 2013 as Kenya’s eighth Solicitor-General, Mr Muturi bestrode the corridors of the State Law Office like a king, making friends and enemies in equal measure.
Attorney-General Githu Muigai might have been his boss in the pecking order but many in government knew that real power rested with his junior.
Prof Muigai was viewed as a neutral who ascended to the AG’s position, not because of political patronage, but due to his wide grasp of law and many years of practice.
The former AG’s close friends describe him as a professional who understood his role and spoke his mind even when his expert opinion did not augur well with those in authority.
Mr Muturi, on the other hand, was Mr Kenyatta’s personal assistant from 2002 to 2013 when he paved the way for the President’s nephew, Mr Jomo Gecaga.
His own father, Mr Muturi wa Njee, was at one time an aide of Kenya’s founding President Jomo Kenyatta.
For the five years he occupied the Solicitor-General’s office, Mr Muturi earned himself the tag of the President’s Mr Fix-It, creating laws to bolster Mr Kenyatta’s powers and amending those that did not please him.
It is a posture that often put him at loggerheads with the AG who is reported to have quietly opposed some of the amendments but chose not to speak, perhaps, in order not to widen the rift between them.
The post of Solicitor-General is little understood by the public yet it is a very powerful one.
The holder signs deals and international treaties and agreements on behalf of the government.
The Solicitor-General (SG) is the accounting officer at the Office of Attorney General. It is equivalent to the post of a principal secretary.
The office holder’s duties include organising, co-coordinating and managing the administrative, and, as the case may be, the legal functions of the office.
He also supervises all court cases, including appeals or petitions on behalf of the AG and is responsible for the discipline of State lawyers and other members of staff in the office.
Furthermore, the SG is usually consulted by many government officials, including parastatal heads and independent commission bosses on legal issues that might have financial implications on the country.
When he was appointed to the job in 2013, there was talk that Mr Muturi had lost favour with the President, hence the reason he was posted away from State House.
But his recent posting as deputy chief of staff at State House is proof that he has lost some favour with his boss, said a source who asked not to be named in order speak freely about his friend.
“The SG’s job has clout,” he said. “What exactly do you do as State House deputy chief of staff?” the friend posed.
It is not clear why the President moved Mr Muturi but our sources speculated that it could be linked to the President’s desire to have a fresh team of legal advisers without baggage.
When contacted over this story, Mr Muturi was not prepared to discuss the matter, only stating that he was at ease with his new responsibilities before excusing himself and disconnecting the phone.
“Well, we have been working. I am in the middle of something, would you mind if I call you later?” Mr Muturi said before cutting off the conversation.
He did not call again or pick our subsequent calls.
In an earlier conversation, Jubilee vice-chairman David Murathe had dismissed suggestions that Mr Muturi had been demoted, insisting that, if anything, his clout had been enhanced.
“He will now be based at State House and that is the seat of power. If you understand how power works, he is now in the ‘Kitchen Cabinet’,” Mr Murathe argued.
On the same day President Kenyatta announced that he had moved Mr Muturi to State House, he also announced Prof Muigai’s resignation and nominated Court of Appeal president Paul Kihara as his replacement.
He also nominated lawyer Ken Ogeto as Mr Muturi’s replacement and appointed Mr Abdikadir Mohammed, his adviser on constitutional affairs, as ambassador to South Korea, an appointment the latter declined.
In his new job, Mr Muturi and his boss, Mr Nzioka Waita, are based at State House.
“Their roles, despite the lofty titles, are somewhat diminished outside the Presidential Delivery Unit.
"The de facto boss at State House is the Comptroller, Kinuthia Mbugua. He is the AIE (Authority to Incur Expenditure) holder and as such assigns vehicles, budgets, drivers and any other issue that requires finances.
"Everyone at State House with the exception of Mr Joseph Kinyua (Head of Public Service) cannot outshine Mr Mbugua. He is also the representative of PSC at State House,” a source said.
The source indicated that Mr Muturi’s role remains undefined and until the Executive Order Number 1 2018 is released, his work remains largely that of an adviser.