The dreaded Mungiki sect is grabbing headlines again just when Kenyans thought the gang had been vanquished.
During the announcement of the verdict on the six suspected masterminds of the 2007/2008 post-election violence, it emerged that International Criminal Court (ICC) Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo is relying on evidence from some witnesses who are former Mungiki members to argue his case.
Former Mungiki leader Maina Njenga. Njenga is said to have received over Sh20m to facilitate attacks. [PHOTO: FILE/STANDARD
The witnesses, whose accounts have been accepted by Pre-Trial Chamber II judges, made sensational claims that President Kibaki at State House, Nairobi, in the presence of Uhuru Kenyatta and Francis Muthaura, twice hosted them. State House has, however, rebutted the claims.
Uhuru and Muthaura are fighting the crimes against humanity charges alongside Eldoret North MP William Ruto and radio journalist Joshua arap Sang.
Mungiki, known to kill using cruel methods, has for years instilled fear among ordinary Kenyans, especially in central Kenya and parts of Eastlands area in Nairobi.
Kenyatta and Muthaura have stepped aside from their offices. And the former is facing growing calls to resign as Deputy Prime Minister.
In a popular TV talk show, lawyer Ahmednasir Abdullahi argued recently that Kibaki should also be concerned with the ruling, which insinuates he was at the State House meeting said to have also been attended by Mungiki sect members.
The Government, through the police, has in the past attempted to crush the sect, which has led to human rights watchers even accusing the Government of extrajudicial killings.
A number of Mungiki leaders have been killed in mysterious circumstances, while two top Mungiki leaders, Maina Njenga and Ndura Waruinge have converted to Christianity and renounced the group.
When Njenga was released from prison in 2009 and said he had turned to Christ, many Kenyans breathed a sigh of relief, believing that that was the final nail on the coffin of the sect.
But evidence adduced before the ICC, which judges took into consideration when ruling on the cases, indicates that Mungiki was alive and kicking in the period preceding and even 2007 General Election, with top politicians said to have used it to advance their motives.
Ocampo’s Case Two, which has Uhuru and Muthaura as the suspects, is centered on illegal acts committed by Mungiki and how the duo used the gang to campaign for Kibaki’s re-election as well as for retaliatory attacks in Naivasha and Nakuru in 2008.
The ruling paints a picture of Mungiki as a gang for hire, always prepared to perform dirty jobs, but which is highly opportunistic.
The ruling details how the proscribed sect arm-twisted Kibaki in 2007 into giving in to outrageous demands by sect leaders
The ruling contains a detailed account of all the meetings at State House Nairobi and the exchanges between gang leaders and Kibaki and his aides, which were aimed at securing Mungiki’s support for his re-election.
The judges upheld Ocampo’s sensational submissions last year that State House hosted the gang.
However, during the confirmation the charges hearings, defence teams of Muthaura and Kenyatta argued that the idea of Mungiki members entering State House was “inconceivable”.
The judges, however, found that the first meeting held in a tent at State House took place on November 26, 2007 “between Muthaura, Kenyatta, Mungiki representatives, President Mwai Kibaki, and others”.
The judges said they believed witness OTP-4, who was present at the meeting as a Mungiki representative.
State House meeting
The witness stated that, among others, a number of named individuals, both on the side of the Mungiki and on the side of the PNU Coalition (Muthaura, Kenyatta, Kibaki, Hyslop Ipu, Isaiya Kabira and Stanley Murage) attended.
Muthaura is said to have introduced the Mungiki members to the President – referring to them, throughout the entire meeting, as “the youth”. He is said to have encouraged them to present their demands to President Kibaki in exchange for their support for his campaign.
One of the Mungiki representatives, the judges ruled, presented on behalf of Maina Njenga, a number of demands.
The demands included cessation of extrajudicial killings of Mungiki members, the release from prison of Njenga, and the recruitment of Kikuyu youth the security and armed forces.
The witness, whose testimony the judges upheld, stated that, after hearing the Mungiki demands, the President addressed Muthaura telling him, “Something to the effect, ‘You have heard what the youth want, so now it is upon you’”.
Njenga was released in late October 2009 after the State withdrew murder charges for lack of evidence. Njenga had originally been jailed in 2007 over his alleged possession drugs and a firearm.
He was acquitted of those charges in April 2009 and immediately rearrested and charged in connection with the murders of 29 people in the central Kenyan town of Karatina.
Before proclaiming salvation, Njenga had demanded State protection to give evidence against Government officials allegedly involved in sect activities.
At the State House meeting, the judges said Kenyatta spoke as well, and told Mungiki to fully support “the President”, invoking their allegiance to the same community.
Witness OTP-4 said at the end of the meeting, Muthaura gave money to the Mungiki representatives. The statements of Witness OTP-11 and Witness OTP-12 independently corroborated his testimony, the judges ruled.
Witness OTP-11 said “Operation Kibaki Again” was a lobby group created by the Mungiki to campaign for Kibaki re-election, while concealing their identity.
Witness OTP-12, also said as part of ‘Operation Kibaki Again’, a number of named Mungiki members went to State House.
The judges further ruled that Mungiki involvement in 2007 campaigns is corroborated by a NSIS Situation Report for 28 November 2007, which stated: “Some Mungiki national officials […] have resolved to campaign for the President through a lobby group called ‘Operation Kibaki Again’ (OKA), but on conditions that its members would be recruited into the Military/Police, restitution of the group’s vehicles impounded by police, and being allowed to re-open their offices and operation bases.”
The judges further ruled that the evidence placed before the chamber provided substantial grounds to believe that, on December 30, 2007, there was a second meeting at State House with Mungiki members and a number of MPs, where Kenyatta was also present.
December 30, 2007, is the day Kibaki was declared president and sworn-in amid protests by ODM that the elections had been rigged.
“This is established to the requisite threshold by the testimony provided by Witness OTP- 11, corroborated by Witness OTP-12 and Witness OTP-6,” they said in the verdict.
Witness OTP-11 refers to the occasion as an “urgent” meeting in which Mr Kenyatta said that he had the capability of organising ‘his people’ and mobilising them for any eventuality.
According to the witness, during this meeting, Kenyatta also gave some MPs and Mungiki co-ordinators Sh3.3 million each.
In particular, the witness states that an individual (whose name was redacted) was among the recipients of money to co-ordinate the Mungiki attack in Naivasha. He said money distributed at this meeting was later spent in part, to buy the guns that were used in the attack in Nakuru.
Witness OTP-12 corroborated the account provided by OTP-11, stating that there was a meeting at State House, where the logistics of the attack in Naivasha were planned. The witness further indicated that the provision of Sh3.3 million by Kenyatta to local politicians to mobilise the people from the ground occurred during the State House meeting.
The third meeting, the judges said, was held at the Nairobi Club on January 3, 2008, where “Muthaura and Kenyatta met with Mungiki members and directed them to commit the crimes charged.”
According to a witness, whose accounts have been upheld, at the beginning of the meeting, Muthaura told the Mungiki, addressing them in Kikuyu, that since “our community” was being targeted in the Rift Valley, they needed to “revenge or retaliate”.
Thereafter, Kenyatta took the floor and asked one Maina Diambo whether the Mungiki “had plans”.
Maina Diambo replied confirming that “the ‘youth’ were ready” and that everything depended on “Government officials” and asked whether the police would interfere with the Mungiki operation in the Rift Valley.
At this point, according to the witness, Muthaura called Mr Hussein Ali (whose charges have been dropped), telling him in Kiswahili, “Our youth will be going to the Rift Valley and we don’t want them to be disturbed.”
The Chamber concluded that the evidence demonstrates that Njenga was approached with, and eventually agreed to the common plan with Muthaura and Kenyatta in exchange for a number of concessions.
In particular, the judges said, the evidence showed Njenga received a significant amount of money on at least two occasions to make available the services of the Mungiki to the PNU Coalition for the commission of the crimes.
Witness OTP-11 stated that around mid-December 2007, Njenga was given Sh8 million from “State House”. The witness further clarified that, out of this money, Sh2 million was supposed to be shared by the Mungiki leaders who were directly in contact with the PNU Coalition.
According to Witness OTP-12, in late January 2008, before the commission of the crimes in Naivasha, Maina Njenga was given another Sh20 million, brought to him in prison again by Maina Diambo.
Source The Standard