, NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 29 – The recent killings of 29 people in Central Kenya have left many doubting the effectiveness and efficiency of the National Security Intelligence Service (NSIS) in the country.
The police appear to have been caught flat-footed with little or no knowledge on what was to happen on the morning of Tuesday 21, April 2009.
And even the CID-based Criminal Intelligence Unit (CIU) appears to have failed in its work.
Although the police largely depend on the NSIS daily briefs, they have their own elite officers at the CIU with teams in all the provinces who are supposed to spy on security threats.
Like the NSIS officers, CIU detectives are adequately facilitated by money from the taxpayers to help them gather intelligence that can be used in monitoring, and averting anticipated crimes and criminal activities like the Mathira massacre.
It means therefore, that if they both did their job well, the massacre could have occurred, at least not that large number of 29 people within three hours from 2 am when it all started on that fateful morning.
For how could two groups clash in a village and engage in running battles, leading to such massive killings without the police intervening?
Capital News reliably learnt that it took two hours for the police to arrive at the scene, long after the killings had occurred.
Although Police Spokesman Erick Kiraithe insists police were there just in time, he is not able to tell why then they did not avert the killings.
Neither does he talk of why there was no encounter between the police who went to the scene and the vigilante group code-named ‘Bantu’ or Mungiki themselves as they fled from the scene or participated in the actual killings at Gathaithi-Kiangumara village.
“Our officers had been there patrolling and as soon as they left, the killings occurred. But they returned when called by residents,” he said.
He said police had patrolled the area a few hours earlier and retreated to their station, only to be called an hour later.
Just before the killings occured, police said they confronted and intercepted a group of armed youth at a roadblock on the Karatina-Nyeri highway as they travelled in a mini-bus.
Police at the Karatina police station did not even realize the group was joining their colleagues at Gathaithi village, until the following morning when they were interrogated.
Central Provincial Police chief John M’mbijiwe on his part blamed villagers for taking too long to call for help.
“They (villagers) took long to inform us on what was happening and by the time our officers arrived at the scene, damage had already been done, but we managed to contain the situation,” he said and declined to be drawn into discussing their internal and external security intelligence networks.
Sources tell Capital News that the Commissioner of Police Maj General Mohammed Hussein Ali demanded to know why the killings were not averted, yet they appeared to have been planned long before they were executed.
A series of meetings held soon after the killings are said to have cantered on why the matter was not detected.
“The Commissioner is furious at the role the CID is supposed to play. He has been questioning this and has in fact ordered the department to be more vigilant in its work,” a source said.
Primarily, the role of the CID is to detect and investigate crimes and not necessarily wait for them to occur.
Tuesday’s surprise re-arrest of Mungiki leader Maina Njenga over the Karatina massacre further indicts the intelligence agencies.
The Police Spokesman says detectives were acting on credible information that the outlawed sect leader ‘personally ordered the murder of the 28 people.’
“He will also be investigated in connection with several other serious criminal offences committed by the outlawed criminal gang under his leadership.”
Again, the Intelligence units are to blame if indeed Njenga was able to coordinate such killings from behind bars without their knowledge.
For how did they fail to know of this as it was being planned, coordinated and subsequently executed, yet they (NSIS) and the CID-based CIU have networks in all corners of the country.
In Karatina and Kirinyaga for instance, there was tension building up for two weeks or more as villagers continued to lynch Mungiki suspects in broad daylight.
It follows therefore, that intelligence departments could have been in the fore, to investigate the root cause of the problem, its implications and even advice on how the situation should be handled.
They did not.
And that is why the police were caught flat-footed, only to rush to the scene long after the killings had occurred.