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Lawyer pays Sh1m to kidnappers

MONDAY, Kenya, Sept 29 – A city lawyer was kidnapped on Friday and held hostage for four days before being released after parting with a cool Sh1 million.

Ken Okong’o who is also a politician said he was driving home after meeting friends at the Hotel Intercontinental when two vehicles blocked him on City Hall Way.

“One was ahead of me while the other was just behind me. When the one in front stopped abruptly, I looked at the side mirrors and saw another vehicle behind me and the occupants had already approached and ordered me out,” Mr Okong’o said.

He told Capital News how his mobile phones were confiscated after which he was bundled in the trunk of one of the vehicles which then drove to an area be believes was either Ruiru or Thika.

“They were driving at a very high speed and at some point I could tell we were cruising on rough terrain.  I checked my watch and realised that the journey had taken about one and half hours,” he added.

Mr Okong’o who has twice unsuccessfully vied in West Mugirango said the vehicle eventually stopped in a forest where he was ordered out and escorted to an isolated house.

The house was empty with no furniture but had about 10 heavily armed men who were guarding another abductee he suspects to be either a Briton or a German.

A man ordered that Mr Okong’os hands be tied to the back because he appeared violent and feared he may attempt to escape.

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This, he says, followed an encounter with one of them when he tried to touch a gun the abductor was holding as he alighted from the car.

“I was hit on the head when I touched the gun, they must have thought I wanted to grab it, but I think I was confused,” he said as he pointed to an injury to his left eye.

Initially, he said, the abductors begun by interrogating him, enquiring what property he owned.

“They particularly wanted to know what I do because they had seen some business cards in my car; they had also found some Sh100,000 in the vehicle, so they started asking me if I could raise Sh4 million,” he said.

“When I told them I am a lawyer, they warned me against notifying the police, and insisted I only inform a friend or a relative who should not dare involve the police,” he said.

They assured him that his vehicle was safe and that it had been towed to the Central Police station after they abandoned it on one of the city streets.

Central Divisional Deputy Police Chief Joseph Atuti told Capital News they were notified of the abandoned vehicle by guards.

“That is when it was towed to our station, the same day one of his friends came and reported that the man had been kidnapped,” he said.

A friend contacted by Mr Okong’o to raise the required ransom clashed with the abductors when he reportedly threatened to involve the police.

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“They almost killed me when my friend became arrogant and threatened to go to the police! They advised me to change my contact person and that is why I involved another friend and my wife who was out of the country at the time,” he said.

Mr Okong’o said that his wife negotiated with the abductors who reduced the ransom figure to Sh1 million.

“When they were almost sure the money would come, they relaxed and started treating me even better,” he said and recalled how the foreigner who was also in captivity with him often asked to be given three Guinness beers and a loaf of bread for the days he was there.

Mr Okong’o said he did not miss out on a meal during his three-day ordeal. He was fed on a packet of milk and bread for breakfast, boiled meat and ugali for lunch and nyama choma for dinner.

“They are not violent especially when you have stayed with them and assured them of the possibility of raising funds. And in my case they had seen money coming,” he added.

Come Sunday, the deal had been struck and money was to be delivered in two batches.

Sh500,000 was to be delivered at a venue in Dandora and the remaining amount on Thika road.

“They contacted my people and advised them on how to deliver the money. One of my people was advised to take a matatu to Dandora where he was supposed to meet someone to collect the money and the same case happened to the delivery on Thika road,” he said.

Mr Okong’o was finally released on Monday night but he still could not trace the direction to the house he has been staying in since Friday night.

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“These people are too clever, they ordered me to sleep in the car with my head facing down up to a place they showed me a small river but still I cannot tell where it was. I was dropped at a matatu stage on Thika road and given some Sh2,000 for bus fare,” he said.

Mr Okong’o spent the better part of Tuesday recording statements with the police at the Central Police station where his car was detained.

“We have taken his statement and allowed him to take his vehicle but he will have to pay Sh3,000 for towing charges,” the station’s Commander Mr Joseph Mureithi said.


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