NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 12 – A man who claims his photo was used by NTV and the Daily Nation newspaper depicting him as Rwandan fugitive Felicien Kabuga has been placed under armed police protection after he expressed fears for his life.
Former civil servant Daniel Muthee Ngeera, 58, an Isiolo businessman said he does not know when the photograph was taken as he went about his business in his timber shop in Isiolo.
“I am not Kabuga, I am not a Rwandan. I am a Kenyan and a Meru for that matter but the photograph shown on television and published in the newspaper is mine,” he said when he addressed a press conference at police headquarters in Nairobi Thursday.
The NTV documentary was played at the press conference where Ngeera said he is the man depicted in it as Kabuga.
He was accompanied by his wife, lawyer and other family members to the press briefing.
“Since my photograph was shown on television and newspapers, I have been living in fear, we have even moved from our house and I have closed down my business. My family and I are too traumatised,” Ngeera said.
Ngeera is shown in the photograph aired by NTV wearing a blue t-shirt belonging to the Ministry of Water, which also bears the government coat of arms.
In the photograph, he is wearing spectacles and an M-PESA-branded cap, with two mobile phones on the table against a background he said is that of his timber shop in Isiolo.
Ngeera appeared at the media briefing donned in the same outfit—complete with his two mobile phones.
He told journalists he was given the t-shirt in March this year during the World Water Day.
He said he learnt that his photograph had been shown on television from friends and relatives who telephoned him.
“My wife collapsed because she could not believe that she had been married to a ‘Kabuga’,” he said.
Ngeera who was also accompanied by his lawyer said is now demanding an apology from the TV station and the newspaper.
“I will also take legal action,” he said.
“This matter is serious! I have been linked to a fugitive wanted for crimes against humanity. My life and that of my family has been endangered because the man they are associating me with has a price tag of Sh400 million.
Police Spokesman Eric Kiraithe who accompanied him at the press conference described the expose aired exclusively on NTV and published in the Nation newspaper as ‘pure drama’.
“It is not only shocking but outrageous as well, I can only describe it as pure drama,” Kiraithe said, adding the security forces were exploring options of seeking justice “because we have been portrayed as protecting the Rwandan fugitive.”
He said the Kenyan police had deliberately invited investigators of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) to work with them in searching for Kabuga in 2007.
“We are not working alone in this (investigation). In 2009, the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) detectives joined in and we have been working together, we have conducted over 30 raids in various parts of the country together whenever told that Kabuga has been sighted,” he said, adding “these raids are done even in government-owned houses, we have not been taking this matter lightly because there is an international warrant of arrest.”
Kiraithe categorically stated that Kabuga is not in Kenya.
“After all this investigation, we do not believe that Kabuga is in Kenya,” the police spokesman said.
On the NTV expose, Kiraithe said it had glaring lies and cited documents shown in it which were allegedly authored to or sent from a Commandant for the Department of Defense (DOD).
“There is no such title as Commandant DOD, all correspondence is sent to Chief of General Staff (now Chief of Defense Forces),” he said.
He said a Mr Sarunei who is alleged to have been guarding Kabuga and who is said to have disappeared or died after the Rwandan fugitive discovered he took his photograph has never worked for the military.
“We have thoroughly scrutinized the records of the Kenya Defence Forces since 1996 and we have not been able to trace any records indicating that the said Sarunei ever served in the Kenya Defense Forces at any one point in time,” he said. “The documents attributed to DOD in the documentary have such glaring falsehoods that we wonder how the media house went on and published the information.”
Kiraithe said the family of Dr Rakwach, who is also alleged to have treated Kabuga and who died earlier this week has said he died of natural causes and are embarrassed to hear it being linked to the Rwandan fugitive.
“Today, a distressed Mrs. Ann Rakwach called police headquarters and requested police protection against harassment. She has also expressed her family’s anguish at the manner in which the media has portrayed what she described as the family’s Lifelong Humanitarian Family Investment in Nakuru,” he said.