Kenya top cops assess Mungiki menace

May 8, 2009 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, May 8 – A day after President Mwai Kibaki held a cabinet meeting to discuss the deteriorating security in the country, mainly caused by the outlawed Mungiki sect, top police chiefs held a meeting on Friday to come up with strategies of fighting the gang.

Police Commissioner Major General Hussein Ali summoned Provincial Police chiefs from regions hard-hit by the Mungiki menace and reportedly ordered them to assess the situation in their areas and report back on Monday on how they want the problem tackled.

“PPOs in Nairobi, Central and Rift Valley were told to formulate a situational report which will be relied on in the fight against Mungiki,” a source privy to the meeting told Capital News.

He said that the PPOs were ordered to look into the personnel issues and facilitation they require when they report back on Monday.

The meeting held at Vigilance House was attended by CID director Karanja Gatiba, GSU Commandant Mathews Iteere and the Head of Police Operations at Vigilance House, Peter Kavila.

During the gathering, the source said, there were suggestions to have a special squad formed to specifically deal with Mungiki but participants are reported to have failed to agree on it due to objections that it may raise eyebrows as did the Kwekwe Squad, which has been widely accused of executing nearly 1,500 Mungiki suspects in the past two years.

“The issue was raised and there were such suggestions as to have a special unit formed, but the PPOs and other senior officers agreed to wait until further consultations are completed,” our source said.

Police Spokesman Erick Kiraithe was not immediately available for comment as his mobile phones went unanswered. Calls to his office were answered by one of his junior staffers, who informed us that he out for a meeting.

The country’s deteriorating security was the subject of Thursday’s cabinet meeting chaired by President Mwai Kibaki at State House Nairobi, where he expressed concern, particularly over the Mungiki killer gang and other outlawed sects which have lately made Kenya insecure.

A dispatch sent to newsrooms by the Presidential Press Service soon after the Thursday meeting did not give details, only stating that ‘the issue of security was discussed extensively’.

“On the agenda was the insecurity caused by Mungiki and other illegal criminal gangs in some parts of the country. The issue was extensively discussed,” the statement relayed.

President Kibaki is reported to have ordered all security agencies to be firm in dealing with the sect members, who hacked to death some 29 villagers in Karatina district of Central Kenya, where Mungiki-related incidents have recorded a soaring death toll.

“The Cabinet ordered all security agencies to deal swiftly and firmly with the gangs,” the official statement from the President’s office said without elaborating.

Internal Security Minister Professor George Saitoti, who heads the security docket, was ordered to utilise all available resources in maintaining the country’s security.

Lately, there have been increased cases of execution-style killings mainly targeting prominent businessmen and human rights activists.

Based on reported cases of prominent personalities murdered in the past two months alone and the Karatina massacre three weeks ago, the Ministers at the meeting reportedly charged that the country’s security status was at alarming proportions and demanded an end to it, according to sources privy to the Thursday meeting.

Some Ministers are reported to have argued that the country’s security apparatus was too reluctant to crack the whip on criminals, particularly the Mungiki outfit.

Others said that there was an urgent need to institute reforms in the security sector, which would include a total overhaul of the top police management that has been widely criticised for failing in its work.

During the meeting, Professor Saitoti in whose Ministry the security docket falls defended the police department and pledged to push for better results.

In Parliament on Thursday, Assistant Minister for Internal Security and Provincial Administration Orwa Ojode was at pains to defend the conduct and ability of police officers, with regards to the Karatina murder.

While answering a question from former Justice Minister and Gichugu legislator Martha Karua, Mr Ojode told the House that security had been intensified in all the affected areas in the wake of the Mungiki menace.

Ms Karua had demanded to know why the police did not take action to intercept some of the killer members who are said to have been ferried in motorbikes to Karatina district the day the massacre occurred, and yet they passed through roadblocks.

“The police are doing a very good work, in fact, many of the suspects who committed the heinous murders have been apprehended and some of them have already been charged in court. Action is being taken,” Mr Ojode assured.

It was the second day the issue of insecurity in the country was being discussed extensively in Parliament where a majority of the legislators agreed unanimously that Kenyans were unsafe.

A week ago, Minister Saitoti announced that a major crackdown targeting Mungiki sect leaders had been launched and even vowed to name and shame some of the political and business leaders with links to the gang.

Little has been heard from his office on the name and shame threat, several days since the announcement was made.

The self-confessed Mungiki flounder and chairman Maina Njenga, who successfully contested a five-year jail term slapped on him for gun and marijuana possession, was arrested soon after his acquittal last month and is yet to be produced in court.

Sources told Capital News that the sect leader is being shuffled between the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, Kajiado and Machakos police stations, where officers have managed to keep off his family and any legal representatives.

However, the High Court was on Friday informed that the Attorney General and Commissioner of Police have agreed to produce Mr Njenga in court on Wednesday.

Senior State Counsel James Warui told Justice Mohammed Warsame that the two top officials have signed consent to arraign Mr Njenga in court.

Lawyer Kibe Mungai had filed a habeas corpus application protesting the continued incarceration of Mr Njenga after he was re-arrested on April 28 shortly after his acquittal by the High Court.

Following his re-arrest, Mr Kiraithe said the Mungiki boss was being held over the Kirinyaga massacre.


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