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Citizen Weekly

Monday, 9 February 2015

WHO KILLED MUCHAI?


  Who plotted the assassination of Kabete  MP George Mukuru Muchai and for what reason? This is the question on the minds of Kenyans, including officers trying to unravel the gangland-style horrendous murder of the trade unionist-turned-legislator.
The MP, who was shot on Saturday morning at the Kenyatta Avenue-Uhuru Highway roundabout in Nairobi in the wee hours of the morning, appears to have reintroduced new generations of Kenyans to the fear and loathing of high-profile VIP assassinations.
The older generations still remember the deadly decades of political assassinations in Kenya between February 1965 and March 1975, when a series of VIP murders, at least one of them in public in the Nairobi CBD at high noon on one sunny Saturday, July 5 1969. That was the late Tom Mboya; the vibrant Economics and National Planning minister who was assassinated outside Commonwealth House on then Government Road now Moi Avenue in cold blood.
Within the CBD, in the wee hours of Saturday morning February 7 2015, the political assassination culture appeared to return its ugly head to haunt the new generation.
Muchai was gunned down in the volley of high calibre bullets that killed his driver and two bodyguards in his Toyota Fortuner. His car was ahead of his wife’s. Detectives handling the case are said to have wanted to know why the wife did not accompany her man in the same car as is practice and have one of the bodyguards in her car. Also yawning for anwers is why the family was held up so late in a social place and not in the family house. Also of interest to police is whether there has been any domestic friction.
Calls to Muchai’s phone together and those of his bodyguards and driver were the first to be retrieved from mobile service providers. This, to trace the location and movements of those who were in touch with the victims. Not spared are mobile communications of those who were with the MP in his last moments, including his wife and daughter.
Nairobi City County CCTVs are also being analysed to help in unearthing the deaths. Of concern is how much money was with the MP and if he had made bank transactions. The banking unit of the police has been incorporated in the investigations.
Sources say that the killers attacked at 4am. It is normally assumed that this is a relatively safe hour as anyone trailing you would have given up. Thugs are also ordinarily calling it a night at this hour. It is also the hour when those embarking on safari out of Nairobi or to the airport hit the road. Police however say this is the most dangerous hour because with few people outside, criminals act without fear of eyewitnesses. 
The occupants of the second vehicle said the MP stopped at the roundabout and four people with big guns approached his car from inside a white Probox vehicle and started shooting. The number plates of the assassins had been covered to conceal registration numbers.
The driver of the chase car sped past the MP’s car and when they came back to the scene a few minutes later, all the occupants of the vehicle were dead.
A newspaper vendor at the scene at the time that Americans call uncivilised hour told the police that the gunman who led the shooting had a facemask.
It was a classic assassination and the hitmen were experts, crime analysts aver. It is suspected that by eliminating the MP who was their prime target and his men, the killers may have been known by the victims.
Questions are being asked as to why they could wait all those long hours to execute the killings within city centre. If the MP was from Westlands why not ambush him at the notorious Museum Hill roundabout which is a known as a crimespot?
The newspaper vendor and other witnesses’ initial description of the hitmen wielding “very big guns” and “very long guns” could be crucial to identifying the gang of assassins.
Kenyans spent the entire weekend wondering whether Muchai’s violent demise was politically motivated, professional feuds, business related or even a romance gone haywire.
Kabete constituency is in Kiambu county. It was split in 2012 to have Kikuyu constituency and Kabete constituency which was previously one electoral area.on within the area.
Among the area’s most famous MPs of the past were  Charles Njonjo and Paul Muite, both of them among the most powerful Freemasons in Africa.
Interestingly, Kiambu which is also the home county of founding President Mzee Jomo Kenyatta, was the spot of one of the first political assassinations in modern Kenya, leading to a culture of high profile slayings that continued far into the independence era and marred Jomo’s three-term presidency.
That was the assassination of Kiambu Senior Chief Waruhiu wa Kung’u, who was killed by the Mau Mau, forcing Governor Sir Evelyn Baring to declare the state of emergency on October 20 1952.
Exactly two weeks afterwards, Senior Chief Nderi Wango’mbe of Nyeri county was also cut down by Mau Mau.
Muchai is the first Kikuyu politician to be assassinated in Kenya since JM Kariuki on March 2 1975.
Legislators who arrived at the Lee Funeral Home early asked the government to do thorough investigations into the killing, saying it would be easy to get the murderers as the scene of the crime is under the surveillance of CCTV cameras.
Kiambu senator Kimani Wamatangi said Muchai had been threatened several times and had reported the threats to the police.
“The CCTV clips should be handed to the detectives as soon as possible. There is no way the perpetrators will not be known,” he said.
Other legislators at the Lee Funeral Home included Gatundu North MP Kigwa Njenga, Kipipiri MP Samuel Gichingi, Ruiru MP Esther Gathogo, Juve Njomo, MP for Kiambu and Kiambu women representative Anne Gathechu.
They all alleged that Muchai’s death was a clear assassination whose execution was well planned, coordinated and executed.
If they are correct, and all indications point in that direction, then Kenyans are in for a terrible new chapter under the presidency of a second Kenyatta. 
Muchai was a man who had many enemies. In Kiambu politics, he was in a camp of those opposed to Governor William Kabogo. The MPs have accused Kabogo of disrespecting other leaders. MPs Alice Ng’ang’a Thika Town, Kimani Ichung’wa Kikuyu, Njomo, Kiambu, Mburu Kahangara, Limuru and Jossy Ngugi, Gatundu South have been taking Kabogo headon, accusing him of using abusive language against them in his Jamhuri Day speech in Kirigiti Stadium last year. At Kirigiti, Kabogo without mentioning names hurled barbs on leaders saying a small boy from Kikuyu and a mannerless girl from Thika have formed the habit of attacking his administration for no apparent reason.
To counter, the MPs immediately called a press conference at a Nairobi hotel and expressed their anger at the remarks.
The fight among the MPs and the governor also happened before William Ruto, Kindiki Kithure, Wamatangi and Kiambu deputy governor Gerald Githinji during a church function in Thika town.
The MPs say that the county’s potential has been wasted due to Kabogo’s style of leadership. Second,  Ng’ang’a has on several occasions threatened to collect signatures for Kabogo’s ouster due to what she describes as “dictatorial and non-consultative style of leadership”. She has even claimed her life was in danger.
Then we have Muchai’s troubles at Central Organisation of Trade Unions which led to his suspension as the deputy secretary-general to Francis Atwoli. It is imperative to note that Cotu has asked the government to conduct thorough investigations into the murder of Muchai to avoid speculations.
This is part of Cotu statement following his death. “Cotu secretary general Francis Atwoli and the entire board have condemned the brutal killing of former deputy secretary general and Kabete MP George Muchai, his driver and two bodyguards”.
Atwoli asked the current inspector general to expedite investigations and arrest those who killed the four.
Atwoli also accused the police and former commissioner of police Matthew Iteere of laxity in a similar incident where Muchai was shot in 2012 near his home in Kamulu. That up to date no one has been brought to book over that earlier attempt.
Atwoli expressed faith in the government citing that it has sharp experts who can perform thorough investigations and catch the killers. Cotu has also extended condolences to Muchai’s colleagues in parliament, family and relatives.
“Although we had minor differences, which are normal in trade unions all over the world, our differences were purely ideological and based on issues at hand and completely devoid of witchhunt or malice. He remained a great friend and a colleague,” said Atwoli.
He added that he has known the MP for many years and that the union supported him during his campaign for the Kabete parliamentary seat in the last polls.
“We grew up together in Nairobi and I have known him personally for more than 50 years. We have worked closely in the labour movement for over two decades, until recently when the Cotu executive board decided to suspend him,” said Atwoli
“It is so sad that Muchai can lose his life at a prime age when the people of Kabete and Kenyan workers need his services. We condole with his family and constituents and we shall support them during this difficult period,” he said.
Immediately word went round Muchai had died, rumours started flying left right and centre. In fact, it is said that a third party could have capitalised on the happenings between Muchai in Kiambu politics and Cotu to hit and then hide behind the feuds.
The question is, did someone plot his death to cause a by- election in Kabete so that he can land in parliament? Was it cleverly done bearing in mind Muchai had open battles and in case of anything, those engaged would be suspects?
Muchai a shrewd businessman and an articulate debater is said to have had links with Chinese firms in the construction industry and was investing heavily in real estate. In the controversial NSSF multi-billion construction projects, Muchai had supported a Chinese firm behind the controversial Tassia II housing project and the extension of Hazina Towers within the city.
Initial reports had it that the killers carried his briefcase and the pistols of his bodyguards. What was in the briefcase? If money, were the killers aware and was it the target? Is it because of this they risked their lives even to attack and kill trained armed bodyguards? If not money, were there other documents they were privy to?
Muchai’s daughter who was in the second car was quoted saying that her dad had been at Galileo Bar and Restaurant in Westlands for a family meeting and they were leaving for their Kamulu home along Kangundo Road when they were struck. The daughter, his wife and two relatives were driving in a different saloon car, when the MP decided to buy newspapers then drop the driver at the nearby Kencom Bus Stop before heading to Kamulu.
Muchai ventured into party politics in 2013 and clinched the Kabete parliamentary seat on TNA ticket beating other seven contestants. He defeated then Kikuyu MP Lewis Nguyai on Narc ticket. Others in the race were: James Wanjohi, Pick, Gabriel Gathungu, Agano, Charles Maina, Safina and Samuel Ng’ang’a, DP. Moses Muchiri and Stanley Kamau were independents.
That Muchai led a controversial political life is no secret.  He risked losing his parliamentary seat after he failed to resign as a member of a state corporation.
He was then holding two public offices, one as an elected MP and as a member of the board of National Industrial Training Authority Board, a state corporation in the ministry of Labour, Social Security and Services which is illegal under the law. He was the vice chairman of the board contrary to labour laws. Last week just before his death, Labour minister dissolved the board in controversial circumstances with word that foreign funding from South Korea is in the offing for Nita.
Before the 2013 elections, the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission issued a directive to all the aspiring candidates already in public service to resign six months before the March 4 general elections in compliance with the law,  Muchai failed to do so.
During the run-up to the elections, the then Kabete MP Nguyai attempted to have him blocked from contesting the seat before he resigned but the petition was time barred as he had been cleared by IEBC.
Section 43(5) of the Elections Act, requires that public officers intending to contest elective posts resign at least six months before the polls. According to the act, any public officer who violates the provision is deemed to have committed an offense and is liable upon conviction, to a fine not exceeding Sh1 million or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding three years, or both.
Political and legal analysts say that Muchai had continued to withdraw illegal allowances from the Nita board and some members of the civil society were contemplating moving to court to institute private prosecution to force him refund the money he had earned as allowances from Nita.
The office of the Ombudsman chaired by Otiende Amollo took up the case and wrote to the Attorney General advising prosecution of the MP late last year.
At one time, a talk within the labour industry was that Muchai and Labour CS Kazungu Kambi were secretly working on a plot to have the Nita board dissolved to allow Kambi influence new board members of his choice, something that has come to pass.
Muchai’s trouble began in April 2014 when Kiambu governor Willian Kabogo recorded a statement at the Central Police Station following an incident in which he declared and agreed that he had been whipped by Muchai.
Muchai is said to have whipped Kabogo on random body parts and struck him 17 times before he escaped.
Sources say that on the day at around 6.07 pm Kabogo and Kabete OCS were having coffee at a hotel in Thika town when Muchai in the company of three stormed the hotel demanding explanations from the governor on allegations that Muchai had embezzled Sh1.2b meant for tarmacking Wangige-Ngecha road.