Main Menu

March, 2018


Rift Valley police boss Mungai did not slap Moi: Lee Njiru

More by this Author

The story that Mr Daniel arap Moi was slapped by one of the most infamous senior police officers in Kenya’s history has been passed on since the 1970s as a marker of the tribulations the then vice-president suffered in the hands of the so-called Kiambu mafia who wanted to control President Jomo Kenyatta’s succession.

But it is a claim Mr Lee Njiru, the long-serving press secretary of retired President Moi, now says is fake news, in a rare interview with the Sunday Nation for this final instalment of a two-part exclusive series.

In the ex-president’s 1998 authorised biography, Moi: The Making of an African Statesman, British author Andrew Morton claimed that Mr Moi was twice assaulted by Mr James Mungai, a senior police commandant in then Rift Valley province during the Kenyatta era.

Mr Morton wrote that “on two occasions, Mungai slapped Mr Moi in the face in front of President Kenyatta at State House Nakuru”.

However, he did not elaborate the circumstances in which the two brazen attacks took place.

During Mzee Kenyatta’s time, Mr Mungai also set up an Anti-Stock Theft Unit, a small group of well-equipped police officers ostensibly meant to fight cattle rustling in the late 1970s.

It has been widely claimed that the police unit, also known as the “Ngoroko”, was conceived by a cabal around Mzee Kenyatta who were strategising to remove Mr Moi from the succession equation after attempts to change the Constitution to stop the VP from automatically assuming power upon the President’s death failed.   

In the plot, Mr Mungai, who some have described as a rogue police officer who was a law unto himself, was supposedly assigned the role of confining Mr Moi to his Kabarak home as his co-conspirators in Nairobi installed a person of their choice as president against the constitution.


In another version of this story, the “Ngoroko” squad was meant to assassinate Vice-President Moi and his close allies.

While saying that Mr Mungai, who now leads a quiet life in Nakuru, was indeed one of the schemers against his boss, Mr Njiru told the Sunday Nation that claims in Mr Morton’s book about the policeman slapping Mr Moi were “fabrications”.  

“There’s no probability whatsoever that it could have happened,” he said firmly.

“It was okay to verbally attack Moi, but no one could touch him. Not even Kenyatta. Politicking ended where Moi’s body began.”

According to Mr Morton, there was an incident in 1975 when Moi had returned from an Organisation of African Unity (now African Union) meeting in Kampala, Uganda, only for Mr Mungai to accuse him of bringing guns as part of a conspiracy to overthrow Mzee Kenyatta.

Mr Mungai reportedly conducted a vigorous search for the weapons, ordering his men to examine Mr Moi’s offices at the Nakuru Oil and Flour Mills.

The humiliating exercise, according to the author, involved a strip-search on the VP.

“Moi was a very scared man. Each night he prayed, knowing that he could be assassinated any time. Even so, he was troubled as he was holding on to his job by the skin of his teeth,” Mr Morton wrote.

After this incident, according to the author, Mr Moi complained directly to Mzee Kenyatta in 1975 about Mr Mungai’s constant harassment.

Mzee Kenyatta reportedly asked his VP a rhetorical question: “Who is the minister in charge of the police?”

At that time, Mr Moi was Vice-President and minister for Home Affairs. 

The police force fell under the docket at the time and Moi was, therefore, Mr Mungai’s boss.

“There was no physical space for Mungai to do the kind of things he is alleged to have done.

“Moi’s heavily armed bodyguards would have instantly shot him dead,” Mr Njiru said in the recent interview.

Mr Njiru’s statements throw another spin to a tale that has long captivated public imagination.

And, to date, the sheer brazenness of the alleged attacks on the VP continue to fuel the curiosity of many a journalist.

For several years now, I have sought the details — from Mr Mungai and other senior government officials in Mzee Kenyatta’s era — of the two incidents described by Mr Morton but without success.

My only meeting with Mr Mungai took place about six years ago.

It was facilitated by Francis “Mkombozi” Karanja, a former councillor in Nakuru.

We met Mungai in his Engarusha home in Nakuru on a chilly Monday morning.

A short, stocky man with darting eyes, he said less and took time to study people.

His disdain for the media is real and legendary.

I had been told stories of him unleashing ferocious dogs on inquisitive and uninvited journalists.

That day, however, he spared me a similar treatment, perhaps to prove that he wasn’t intolerant as is widely claimed, or perhaps in respect of Councillor Mkombozi, his long-time friend.

Despite the morning chill, he wore gumboots, light blue jeans and a short-sleeved brown shirt.

He informed us that he had just come from working on his farm with a tractor.

“These young men of mine don’t want to soil their hands with hard farm work,” he said, aiming his statement at one of his sons who was within earshot.

For a man of his reputation, his house, totally hidden in a forest of indigenous and exotic trees, was rather small but felt comfortable.

His soft spoken wife made us tea as he made us easy with small talk.

I wondered aloud how he managed to still drive a tractor at his age (he was approximately in his mid-70s or early 80s), to which he remarked that we would be surprised by the fact he still drove himself all the way to Nairobi (where he was building a flat in Tassia) and to Nyali, Mombasa, where he has a home. He was extremely fit at his age.

Councillor Mkombozi then made my case to him; that I have read the many negative stories about him by historians and journalists and this was his opportunity to set the record straight.

He was not opposed to the idea of the interview, Mr Mungai replied, but he rued what he termed concerted efforts by the Nation to portray him in bad light over the years.

For proof, he pulled a thick file from a cabinet in the sitting room, which contained cuttings of media articles ever written about him.

“Most of these things are lies. Pure lies,” he said. 

“But what made you slap Moi?” I asked. “We will talk about those issues another day, not today,” he replied. But that day has never come.

He intimated that he wasn’t comfortable talking about the slapping allegations since it was our first meeting but promised to do so in a comprehensive interview at a later date.

He declined to give me his mobile phone number after I gave him my job card, but promised to call me when he was ready for the interview.

After this meeting, I visited his home once again but he wasn’t around.

For my third and last effort to interview him in 2014, I enlisted the help of Bahati MP Kimani Ngunjiri, also a friend of his.

But the MP gave up after three failed attempts to set up a meeting for me.

In the MP’s candid view, it is highly unlikely that the elusive ex-policeman would ever grant a comprehensive media interview.

When we met, Mr Mungai claimed that he was in the middle of efforts to meet and reconcile with Moi over their past differences.

He argued that if the interview ran at the time it might displease the former Head of State and scuttle their reconciliation efforts.

However, Mr Njiru told the Sunday Nation that Mr Mungai has never sought such a meeting with the retired president.

“Mzee is a peacemaker and would never deny anyone a meeting for reconciliation if they indeed had crossed paths. But Mungai has never asked for anything of the sort,” he said.  

Since then, I have asked several other senior government officials at the time, and who might have witnessed Mungai’s alleged brazen assault on Moi, but none of them has any recollection of the incidents.

Mr Njiru said that Mzee Kenyatta would never have allowed his VP to be humiliated in such a manner by a junior officer.

“Slapping Moi in front of Kenyatta would have crossed the line. Kenyatta adored and respected Moi. He would never have allowed that,” he said.

Such an incident, he said, would have led to a serious political fallout in government.

“Moi had his own political constituency, which would never have condoned such. The fallout would have made international news,” he said.

He termed Mr Mungai a “glorified police officer”.

“Whatever he did he was playing in time and tune. The obtaining political circumstances shaped his thinking, actions and reactions. It is important not to distort historical facts,” he said.

After Mr Moi came to power on August 1978, the Ngoroko Affair became the topmost political agenda of the day.

MPs demanded the detention of those behind it.

All along Mungai pleaded his innocence to senior government officials close to Mr Moi.

Fearing retribution from the President, he fled to Sudan via Lokitaung in Turkana before heading to Switzerland on a brief exile.

There, he found the winter unbearably harsh and returned home two months later.

While in exile, a warrant of arrest had been issued by the High Court after he was accused of “embezzlement”, but he was never charged upon his return on December 1978.

He has kept a low profile since then and seems determined to hold on to the two great secrets of his life: The real agenda of Ngoroko and the Moi slaps.

The core editorial values of Nation Media Group

More by this Author

The Board of the Nation Media Group is pleased to share with the public the core values that drive our journalism, which are an integral part of a more comprehensive Editorial Policy that provides the framework within which our media platforms operate.

The Board has been prompted to publicly reiterate this position because of the extremely critical stage that Kenya, and indeed the region, finds itself in.

In summary, this is a stage characterised by extreme political polarisation that has triggered despair and scepticism in the public, a significant erosion of confidence in governance and public institutions (including media), an over-abundance of misinformation driven by ignorance and malice, and an alarming growth of official intolerance to free speech and media freedom.

The Board is fully committed to ensuring NMG remains an independent content generation and distribution company guided primarily by the values of truthfulness, fairness, accuracy and balance – tempered by a sense of humanity – in its reporting.

We recognise that:

Free and independent media are among the most important institutions in a democratic country.

As a social institution, the media discharge crucial duties by carrying information, debates, analytical and critical comments on society.

The media protect freedom of speech and should not yield to pressure from anybody or any institution that might want to prevent the free flow of accurate information, free access to sources and open debate on any matter of importance or interest to society.

It is the duty of the media to publish information that should be in the public domain, on what goes on in society and to uncover and disclose matters that ought to be subjected to public debate, analysis, scrutiny or criticism in keeping with the universally acknowledged principle that the media’s primary responsibility is to the public.

It is the duty of the media to protect individuals against injustices or neglect committed by public authorities and institutions, private concerns and others.

1. Our news and information outlets are committed to remaining independent of vested interests or external influences and our constant objective is to ascertain and verify the truth of what we publish insofar as this can be established.

2. Veracity and accuracy in reporting are an integral part of our editorial policy.

3. Editorial content is selected for its inherent news value and not to appease, augment or respond to political, commercial or any other interests.

4. Our news and information outlets will differentiate clearly between views and opinion on the one hand and news and reportage on the other.

5. We stand for racial, ethnic, religious and communal harmony and political/party tolerance as well as other forms of pluralism, the principal aim being to help audiences of all races, faiths and nations to see events in perspective, and to understand their interrelationships.

6. We support the principles of democracy as they are most widely understood, that is, good governance, transparency and accountability, regular, free and fair elections as well as social equity.

We also support the role of responsible and credible Civil Society Organisations in the promotion of democracy and good governance, the protection and promotion of human rights and civil liberties.

8. We support and promote public debate on matters of national importance with a view to bringing about behavioural and policy change for the common good.

9. As part of our Corporate Social Responsibility, we support and promote the protection and conservation of the environment whilst promoting sustainable development.

10. We will promote media freedom in the nations where we operate, balancing this value with a well-developed sense of responsibility.

11. We will promote the national efforts of the people of East Africa to develop and harmonise their institutions for the common good and will encourage regional integration where this is practicable, to the advantage of the peoples of those countries involved.

12. Our vision will not be confined to our immediate market within East Africa, but it will be driven by the objective of establishing ourselves as the Media of Africa for Africa.

13. In our commentary pages and programmes, we will vigorously support the interests of the underprivileged and disadvantaged groups or persons and will work to combat injustice without fear or favour.

We will seek to be sensitive to gender issues, the interests of the rural populations and of all forms of minority.

14. We support a free enterprise, market-driven approach to economic development, but our editors will encourage discussion and debate on alternative ideas.

15. Public awareness and participation are an essential ingredient for national mobilisation.

In that regard, we will support society’s efforts to deal with national disasters such as flooding, drought, famine, outbreak of epidemics like the HIV/Aids epidemic, and other forms of humanitarian crises.

16. Our news and information outlets will be authoritative, intelligent and broad in their coverage and will encourage the intelligent expression of African thought and perspectives by way of regular contributions from outsiders able to offer unique professional expertise and reasoned diverse opinions on topical issues about the continent.

17. We will make every effort to maintain a geographical, ethnic and gender balance among those employed in whatever capacity in the Group.

Nairobi, March 2018

Garissa varsity attack survivors put ordeal behind them

More by this Author
More by this Author

Three years after the April 2, 2015 terror attack at the Garissa University College that left 142 students dead, some of the survivors remain traumatised but others are moving on with their studies.

After the deadly attack by members of the Somalia-based terror group Al-Shabaab on April 2, 2015, the college was closed and students moved to Moi University main campus, its parent institution then.

Some students said they are dissatisfied with the treatment they have received since being transferred there, but others said they were happy with their recovery and the support they have received from the university administration.

However, the students who spoke to the Sunday Nation requested that we do not reveal their names because some of their colleagues were harassed in the past by the university administration for speaking about their stay in the campus. 

“At first, the institution demonstrated care by offering counselling but after some time we were left on our own,” said a student who survived the attack.

She added: “Some of us cannot withstand the huge crowd at this university. It evokes memories of the attack but we have to persevere and complete our studies since you cannot cling on the past.”

Another student said some of the survivors of the attack have found it difficult to cope with life on campus due to unfulfilled pledges.

“We were assured of accommodation and meals but nobody cares for us,” she said.

The survivors have formed a support group. Recently a non-governmental organisation met them to check on their progress and they had lunch together.

A survivor of the attack was full of praise for the fellow students and their leaders whom she said have been supportive since they were admitted.

Moi University’s Dean of Students, Rev John Ayieko, said the majority of the students who transferred there after the attack have recovered well.

“We have really assisted them,” he said. “We have done our best to support them to recover so that they can complete their studies. They are now looking forward to graduating.”

When they were taken to the campus, the university administration promised a close supervision of their recovery, saying that they will be accorded adequate support.

One survivor recounted how he hid under the staircase with his friend as the gunmen opened fire to scare out terrified students and make them easy targets.

He said he was among the first group to be rescued when the security officers subdued the terrorists.  

He believes it took a miracle to save him from the attackers.

“I almost ran away as they approached but my friend pulled me back. That is when I prayed to God to save me,” the student, who is moving to his fourth year, recalls.

He said the gunshots worsened a hearing problem that he had developed earlier.

He underwent surgery that cost Sh50,000 and now uses a hearing aid. Counselling provided by the university has helped him recover, he said.

“Through the sessions, I shared what was in my heart and in the process, I healed,” the student said.

Another student said that he witnessed the attack at the rooftop of their hostel.

“No one could see me apart from the police air surveillance,” the student said.

He said that he was lucky that he was not hurt during the incident but had to contend with post-trauma effects.

At first, he said he was initially scared of noisy places and loud bangs.

“I also did not like being in crowds. I preferred to stay alone. But the counselling sessions, which we went through, really helped me,” the student said.

He added that they were counselled by university counsellors and others from humanitarian organisations such as Amref for about two months.

“I have learnt to accept that in life, anything is bound to happen. I just have to take it positively.”

Garissa University rules out memorial for attack victims

More by this Author

Garissa University College will not hold any event to commemorate the third anniversary of the April 2, 2015 terror attack at the institution by Al-Shabaab militants.

The university held memorials to mark the past two anniversaries, but Vice-Chancellor Ahmed Osman Warfa said the events only bring back bad memories of the incident.

“We are not doing any event this time round; it only reminds us of that fateful day,” Prof Warfa, who was the institution’s principal during the attack, said.

The incident claimed the lives of 148 people, most of them students. 

The past two memorials were characterised by prayers for the victims.

In last year’s commemoration, a group of youth organised a marathon to remember those who perished in the attack.

In an interview with the Sunday Nation, Prof Warfa recalled how he heard the first gunshot at about 5.40am when he was about to go to the mosque for fajr (morning) prayers.

“I immediately called a police officer who was within the institution, who had equally heard the gunshots. He starting firing from the hostels where he was but the gunshots from the gate got intense,” he said.

He recalled that there was an unusual power outage on the night of the attack.

Prof Warfa said there were seven watchmen on duty that fateful night, stationed at different points within the university.

The one at the gate refused to open for the intruders who shot him dead to gain entry.

The VC expressed regret that young students had their lives ended in the most tragic way in the hands of people driven by extremist ideology.

“We will never forget them,” he said.

The VC said the government has enhanced security at the institution by building a police station inside the university.


They have also built a perimeter wall around the institution and they are about to finish construction of watchtowers and installation of CCTV cameras.

A biometric gadget that has details of all students and staff at the university has been installed at the gate.

The gadget is manned by Administration Police officers and private security guards.

Vehicles are also searched at the entrance and occupants frisked.

Overall, the government has enhanced security in North Eastern region with the appointment of former ambassador Mohamud Saleh as the regional commissioner after the attack.

Although there have been attacks that resulted from Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) that have claimed lives of security officers in areas near the border, there have not been major attacks in the towns.
Government officials attribute the decrease in terror attacks in the county to enhanced public cooperation with security agencies and the sharing of information.

“Members of the public have shared with us information that has led to the arrest of suspects. This is because we have boosted their confidence in security agencies,” Mr Saleh said in a recent interview.

In October last year, President Uhuru Kenyatta awarded the institution a charter, thus making it an autonomous university.  

In doing so, the President said he was sending a message to the terror group that Kenya will not succumb to its actions.

Prof Warfa said the President’s action has emboldened the university to pursue its mission. 

He said the university has a total of 1,193 students, of whom about 400 are government-sponsored.

‘I’m at peace with what fate has served me since Shabaab raid’

More by this Author

One warm afternoon at the start of December last year, I visited Ms Rachael Munjiru, who survived the 2015 Garissa University College attack, in her Gathaithi village home at the foot of the Aberdare hills, 80 kilometres north of Nairobi.

I was welcomed into her humble wood-and-mud house by her father, Julius Gikonyo Macharia, who served me a late lunch of potatoes, meat, and cabbage, washed down with copious amounts of pale tea. 

Rachael was preparing to report for the second semester of her first year at Kenyatta University where she is studying psychology and counselling.

A Good Samaritan from South Korea is paying her university fees after reading about her plight on the internet. 

On April 2, 2015, Rachael, 23, and her circle of Christian Union friends were about to conclude their morning prayers when they were rudely interrupted.

It was about 5.30am and they had just joined hands to say the Lord’s Prayer when two wild-eyed men wielding AK-47 assault rifles stormed the classroom where they were gathered and opened fire. 

Rachael, stunned by the staccato of gunfire and grenades exploding around her, prayed for her life but expected the worst.

She heard the screams of fellow students pinned down by two other attackers in hostels nearby.

Lying on her stomach and facing the door, Rachael witnessed the first of her colleagues fall to the assailants’ bullets.

One of the militants then stood behind her. She closed her eyes tightly.

She heard the hard squeeze of the trigger followed by the quick release of bullets.

Someone beside her let out a short, sharp scream and went silent. Next it was her turn. Rachael absorbed 11 bullets in her small body.

She was not supposed to survive, but she did — with injuries that changed her life.

At the end of the 10-hour ordeal, 142 students lay dead, most of them shot in the back as they tried to flee.

Six security officials were killed, too, as well as the four attackers, who were led by a young law graduate from the University of Nairobi. 

Over 79 other people sustained injuries. From the group of 30 Christian Union students who had gathered that morning to pray, eight survived.

After the attack, Rachael underwent seven surgeries, including one in India, to remove bullet fragments lodged in her spinal column.

She is scheduled to return to India for another surgery to stimulate her nerves, which will enable her to walk again and resume normal life — but that is if her family manages to raise the Sh2 million cost of the operation.  

The day we met, she wore a heavy brown sweater and sat on a wheelchair, her ruined legs covered with a cream blanket.

Next to her sat her sister and four little cousins who amused themselves by making faces at each other.

Rachael has become a national symbol of resistance to the barbarity of Al-Shabaab.

She spoke deliberately and took time to find appropriate words when I asked what she thought about Kenya’s military operation in Somalia. 

“I am not sure what I feel about it,” she told me in Kiswahili. Egged on by her father who urged her to “speak her mind”, she conceded, “I guess all these attacks would not have happened if the military was not in Somalia.”

Mr Gikonyo then switched the topic to his daughter’s preparations to return to college.

He later explained out of her earshot that the family did not wish to come across as ungrateful to the government, which had paid most of his daughter’s medical expenses. 

Nightfall was creeping in as I left their humble home.

One of Rachael’s young cousins wheeled her into a room for rest as I bade her goodbye.

Her father asked me for a ride to Thika, the nearest big town, to buy fish, a treat for his daughter.

In the car, I noticed that he was unusually quiet.

He explained that he was running out of money for his daughter’s medication and the special diet, which cost the family Sh600 a day — a veritable fortune for them. 

A proud man who had always taught his children not to expect free things from people, he now depends on the generosity of others to sustain his daughter.

I gave him some money for that week’s bills.

In front of his wounded daughter, he had been composed throughout my interview, but in the car he betrayed a hint of anger and frustration at the whole situation.

“A few people sit in big offices and make decisions that affect the small man without even caring for his opinion,” he said, in reference to decisions he believes have affected the security situation. 

His wife passed away a few days after Christmas of 2015, just before their daughter was discharged from hospital.

She died of a stroke, “and a broken heart”, as a result of worrying too much about their wounded child, he said. 

The burdens of raising their four children all alone — the lastborn being just five years old — weighed heavily on his mind.

He was forced to abandon his bicycle repair business to take care of his daughter.

“It is a full-time job,” he said, adding that he has sold everything he could to cater for her treatment and comfort.

The darkest aspect of the college attack is that it targeted young adults in the prime of their youth, bearing not only their own dreams but also those of their families. 

Rachael, the eldest of four children, is the first in her family to go to university. 

Her father, a peasant farmer, threw a party for his family to celebrate her admission to the university. “It was a milestone for us.”   

Rachael hoped to land a job as a secondary school teacher after graduating to help her parents pay school fees for her siblings and build them a nice house. It now seems like a distant dream.

Mr Gikonyo zipped up his faded brown jacket. “This war has brought me a lot of bitterness,” he told me as he stepped out of the car and waved goodbye.

“But maybe some day I will see the positive side of it.” 

Late last year, I sent text messages to more than 30 influential politicians, top government officials, lawyers and businessmen in my phonebook, making a medical appeal on behalf of Rachael.

Based on her past experiences with politicians, she was sceptical if my approach would work but gave me her blessings nonetheless.

Out of those I contacted only three responded.


The first to do so within minutes of receiving my SMS was Nairobi County Governor Mike Sonko.

He was willing to help, he said, but only to add to what Rachael’s Mt Kenya leaders had raised for her.

None of the leaders from the region ever responded to my SMS.

A few days later, a representative of the industrialist billionaire Manu Chandaria called and told me sorry, the businessman does not fund such individual cases.

The last call was from Emmanuel Talam, the director of communications at Deputy President William Ruto’s office.

He asked me for Rachael’s mobile phone number.

However, she told me no one has ever called her from the DP’s office or from State House, where I reached out on her behalf to three senior officials working there.

This week, I met Rachael again at Kenyatta University where she is pursuing a degree in counselling psychology.

She was wheeled from her hostel to our interview by her sister, Emma, also a student at the university.

Rachael couldn’t resist a smug I-told-you-so smile about my aborted efforts to help her. She had experienced it all before.

But during the recent interview there was something different about her. She is at peace with what fate has served her, she told me.

“I don’t have the many regrets I used to have. I have already moved on. I am alive and that is what matters the most,” she said.

Will Raila deal with Uhuru survive fresh onslaught?

More by this Author

The deportation of fiery lawyer Miguna Miguna to Dubai on Wednesday night has put to a stern test opposition leader Raila Odinga’s political future only three weeks after he and President Uhuru Kenyatta closed ranks to ease political temperatures in the country.

The brutality unleashed on Dr Miguna and his team of lawyers over the three days he was detained at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) has sparked murmurs of discontent in Mr Odinga’s camp with some of his close allies accusing the government of betrayal.

The first-hand humiliation at the airport when Mr Odinga was shoved aside as he tried to intervene and stop General Service Unit (GSU) officers from whisking Dr Miguna away is said to have taken him aback.

His allies are now asking that he rescinds the cooperation with Jubilee even as a section of the ruling party supporters celebrates the new turn of events.

In the eyes of his supporters, Mr Odinga was subjected to ridicule by the State.

“I am wondering how beneficial the handshake was going to be to us if it could not secure Miguna’s freedom,” Kakamega Governor and Mr Odinga’s deputy in ODM Wycliffe Oparanya said.

Some of his close allies now believe it was a well-choreographed move to embarrass Mr Odinga as others argue that it was a mistake in the first place for the opposition leader to have gone to the airport to receive his former adviser-turned- foe-turned-ally.

“We now want a structured cooperation, if we must have one at all.

“It is almost a month and the two-man committee we were told would come up with the programme has yet to say a word. We are being taken for granted,” Mr Oparanya said.

But as his supporters persuade him out of the deal, Mr Odinga must carefully weigh options at his disposal.

Does he bolt out or wait for the storm to calm and continue working with President Kenyatta?

And were he to go back to the trenches, will he be in a position to take all his supporters with him?

Some are already asking questions on the move and, for the first time, many in his own Nyanza home turf are doubtful about the wisdom behind his political move.

These are people who have religiously backed him before.

The fallout in the Opposition coalition Nasa pitting him against his co-principals Kalonzo Musyoka, Musalia Mudavadi and Moses Wetang’ula does not offer Mr Odinga safe landing in the event of his bolting out of the deal with President Kenyatta.

With the trio accusing him of betraying the reform cause, it may appear that Mr Odinga has little chance of cobbling up the outfit together with matters made worse by the ouster of Mr Wetang’ula as minority leader in the Senate.

Siaya Senator James Orengo, a close associate of Mr Odinga’s, is the new leader.

Having run out of viable options, Mr Odinga is said to have considered working with the government as the best way out of the impasse the country had found itself in.

Chances of him forcing a fresh presidential election were fast diminishing, especially after Western governments endorsed President Kenyatta’s win in the October repeat election that he (Mr Odinga) boycotted.

On the deportation of Mr Miguna, Mr Odinga’s associates, including Mr Orengo, hold that the buck stops with President Kenyatta.

“Without his encouragement or support, no single State official would dare defy court orders,” Mr Orengo said.

The Siaya senator said the President was taking Mr Odinga’s gesture for granted.

“Raila (Mr Odinga) has given everything but Uhuru (Mr Kenyatta) has given nothing,” he said.

A State House source, who spoke in confidence, defended President Kenyatta over the Miguna saga, saying that some “decisions” could have been taken without his knowledge “to preserve the State”.

In such instances, the President is later taken through what informed the decisions, the source said.

State House Comptroller in the Kibaki administration Matere Keriri once admitted that there were occasions that the President’s men act without consulting him.

But he quickly added that for decisions with far-reaching consequences, the Head of State must be briefed as soon as possible.

“Ministers and those exercising delegated function have full responsibility. Even on occasions that the President is around, they do not have to consult.

“The general rule, however, is to make the best decision in one’s opinion and ensure the President is kept informed,” he said.

In the current state of affairs, Deputy President William Ruto is believed to be uncomfortable with Mr Odinga’s dalliance with his boss.

An ally of Mr Ruto told us that the Deputy President sees it in terms of upsetting the power balance.

Mr Odinga is a domineering character and Deputy Senate Speaker Kithure Kindiki, a man who hopes to pair up with Mr Ruto in the 2022 presidential polls, warns that Jubilee must be careful in its dealings with the Nasa leader.

“We know his history in politics and that is why we are cautious.

“When a section of the road has had many accidents, safety authorities always put up warning signs.

“Mr Odinga should understand that Jubilee has political commitments it intends to keep,” Prof Kindiki said.

Those opposed to the Kenyatta-Odinga handshake within Jubilee will hear nothing of the newfound friendship.

To them, this is the man who was almost running away with the ultimate prize last year.

“How then do you embrace him before we even get down to massage the wounds of war,” one of those opposed to the deal posed.

But National Assembly Majority Leader Aden Duale said that in agreeing to work together, Mr Kenyatta and Mr Odinga had decided to put the interests of the nation above everything else.

“They are simply saying that the interests of the country supersede those of an individual or party; that should be the way to go,” he said.

Another high-ranking Jubilee official allied to Mr Ruto admitted that they were wary of Mr Odinga’s game plan.

“The truth is we are a bit jittery. Were we to be consulted, I can assure you the handshake would not have taken place,” the politician, who also sought anonymity, said.

The fact that Mr Odinga kept his key allies in the dark over the handshake has brewed internal rebellion with some of them doing everything to sabotage it.

Mr Odinga thus finds himself in the crossfire, first from his own camp and secondly from elements in Jubilee opposed to his move to work with Mr Kenyatta.

But in the country’s political architecture, Mr Odinga is known to possess the power to wriggle himself out of difficult situations.

When he led his National Development Party into cooperation with Kanu on March 2002, some observers wrote Mr Odinga off, maintaining that his party had been swallowed by Kanu, only for the opposition chief to have the last laugh after leading a mass exodus out of the then ruling party to form the National Rainbow Coalition, which clinched that year’s presidential election.

Again in 2007, he reinvented himself, having fallen out with President Mwai Kibaki during the 2005 referendum on the Constitution.

He crafted a formidable outfit that almost sent Mr Kibaki home at the polls.

They ended up sharing power in a grand coalition arrangement.  The only difference now may be age.

At 73, he may not have as much energy and room to manoeuvre.

Families mark Easter with prayers and fun

More by this Author

Kenyans thronged various recreational spots to celebrate Easter on Saturday.

Nakuru played host to thousands of people who thronged the town to listen to Ministry of Repentance and Holiness Church bishop David Owuor.

Most of the bishop’s followers arrived in the town on Friday and spent the night at the showground and nearby hotels ahead of Saturday’s commencement of the religious conference.

Dr Owuor, who spent the previous night at Sarova Woodlands Hotel, gave the congregation a message of hope.

Attendants had filled the grounds to capacity.

He preached on the need for sacrificing lives for God, walking in His ways and building each other’s faith.

“Jesus saved us from facing the wrath of our sins when he died on the cross. We are not in darkness any more, but we are now children of the light,” Dr Owuor said.

The conference, which ran continuously for the whole day, was the beginning of his two-day tour of the town.

Mombasa, the town most synonymous with holidaying, received numerous visitors, making security agencies beef up security in most areas.

“We have officers patrolling the beaches using motorboats. We are ready to deal with any eventualities,” Kisauni deputy county commissioner Kipchumba Rutto said.

Mr Rutto and his Nyali counterpart Joshua Marete said measures had been put in place to ensure that holidaymakers enjoy the celebrations without fear.

At the Jomo Kenyatta public beach, there was a swarm of holidaymakers.

Church leaders at the coastal town called on Kenyans to support the police in the fight against crime.

Likoni Catholic Bishop Henry Ndune urged residents to be alert and inform police about criminals.

On Thursday, security agencies arrested 119 suspects in a crackdown on suspected criminals who had been terrorising residents.

In Nakuru, Lake Nakuru National Park, hotels, restaurants, public grounds and resorts were teeming with families.

Street families also had their moment of fun after some hotels and welfare organisations held parties for them.

Shemeji Hotel spent their day with disabled children and poor families in the streets of Nakuru.

“We decided to share with the less fortunate so that they can also feel like the rest of the people,” Shemeji owner Dan Ng’ang’a said.

In Narok, security was enhanced in the Maasai Mara Game Reserve as local and international tourists continued flocking to lodges and camps in the tourism site.

The influx of international tourists has been associated with the handshake between President Uhuru Kenyatta and opposition leader Raila Odinga two weeks ago.

Hoteliers said the impressive bookings are as a result of the immense tranquillity and ease from political tension experienced in the country.

Narok County Commissioner George Natembea said security personnel have been deployed to the reserve and all towns to ensure people are safe during the holiday.

Mr Natembea said the officers will also be manning shopping centres, hotels and religious places and main highways.

“I assure all residents and visitors that security measures have been put in place to ensure the safety of the residents and visitors who are either in the Maasai Mara or travelling by road,” he said.

Reported by Brian Ocharo, Winnie Atieno, Peter Mburu and George Sayagie

We must eternally be alert to ward off terror attacks

More by this Author

It is three years since the heinous attack on Garissa University College by Al-Shabaab militants, killing some 142 students and leaving tens of others injured and traumatised.

Looking back today, we are encouraged by the solidarity among Kenyans amidst adversity and the fighting spirit that has kept us united and glued together as a nation and a people.

Kenya has witnessed horrific terror attacks in the past two decades, starting with the 1998 simultaneous bombings of US embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam, to the Westgate attack in Nairobi in 2013 and Garissa raid three years ago.

Part of the objective is to inflict pain on Kenyans because of perceived ties with the West, who are endemic targets of the terrorists.

The attacks are also intended to create a wedge between the various faiths and, in turn, foment chaos and instability. But we have rejected those designs.

Even so, we recognise that the pain and anguish visited by the attack take long to heal.

Students who survived the gory ordeal in the hands of the heartless terrorists are yet to recover entirely from the nightmare.


At the institutional level, students reveal serious lapses in providing emotional, physical and resource support to the victims.

Counselling programmes started at the height of the mayhem may have helped to cool nerves but they were not sustained.

So many students are still smarting from the after-effects of the raid and clearly it will take them rather long to get over that horrendous experience.

At least some good came out of such evil acts.


Garissa University College has since been upgraded to a full-fledged institution of higher learning to underline the fact that Kenyans are audacious and daring and cannot be derailed by evildoers.

They are unrelenting in their push for peaceful co-existence.

Security at Garissa University and other learning institutions has been beefed up.

However, the point that has to be repeatedly made is that the militants are not slowing down in any way.

On the contrary, they are seeking to gather as much information as they can and use that to plan and execute more nefarious acts.

It is for this reason that we have to be alert and eternally intensify surveillance to rebuff any such tragic episodes.

We commend the authorities for what has been done so far but call for more urgent actions to help the students and entire staff of Garissa University to get their balance back and soldier on.

Importantly, however, we must be constantly alert and jealously guard against potential future attacks.

Raila Odinga allies want unity deal cancelled

More by this Author

A section of opposition leader Raila Odinga’s close allies are pushing for an end to the new-found cooperation between him and President Uhuru Kenyatta.

Led by Siaya Senator James Orengo, they feel that President Kenyatta is not keeping his part of the bargain, and that the “Harambee House handshake” is fast eroding Mr Odinga’s hard earned stature as a reform icon and staunch critic of injustices committed by successive governments.

Comprising politicians and businessmen, the group argues that the hostility recently exacerbated by the deportation of lawyer Miguna Miguna had made the cooperation untenable.

They have informally asked Mr Odinga, whom together with President Kenyatta on March 9 announced that they would work together to unify the country, to suspend the camaraderie until a raft of grievances are satisfactorily addressed.

If not, Mr Odinga will become part of any injustice committed by the Jubilee administration, they warn.

They want Dr Miguna to be unconditionally allowed back in the country, families of victims of post-election crackdown by police compensated and an agreement on how to achieve electoral reforms struck.

This came out in at least two meetings last week, events that were followed by a press conference by both ODM party officials and its leadership in the National Assembly condemning President Kenyatta regime’s ‘blatant assault on civil liberties’.

Mr Orengo told Sunday Nation that in the absence of the rule of law, there was no point in Mr Odinga working with Mr Kenyatta.

“Uhuru has to be held accountable now. Any engagement with him in any process would be an act of impunity because he is condoning the blatant and brazen defiance of court orders…,” he said.

“He has put the Judiciary in an embarrassing position. His hands are there, the warning he gave to the Judiciary that he would revisit it after the Supreme Court overturned his declaration of win by IEBC is there for all to see,” Mr Orengo added, stating a popular view within ODM’s political circles.


Mr Orengo further accuses the President of violating Article 131(2) of the Constitution.

“The handshake rises or falls on the pedestal of the rule of law, and if the State is out to undermine the rule of law, then it has no basis. The joint statement by the two also talked about rights and respect for the rule of law.”

Frustrations boiled over on Wednesday night when he and Dr Miguna’s legal team were roughed up by GSU officers at the airport, where they had gone to serve court orders to immigration officials who were detaining Dr Miguna.

“The government is not keen to follow the rule of law. The GSU have clobbered us, meaning this handshake between Uhuru and Raila is baseless,” he stated.

“So they have assaulted lawyers, defied the court & deported Dr Miguna…! I feel helpless & angry as an Advocate! Useless as an MP & angry as a Kenyan!!!,” an equally frustrated Mr Amollo posted on his twitter account.

National Assembly Minority Leader John Mbadi warned that the stability and peace that the country has witnessed after the handshake may be eroded by the inhumane treatment Dr Miguna was subjected to at the airport.

“We take note that the recent developments, particularly the return to Kenya of Miguna and his second deportation have cast doubts on the deal,” he said.

But the Jubilee government through various actors maintains that the whole drama about Dr Miguna was about enforcing the law, and that it could have been avoided had he cooperated with the authorities.

ODM Secretary-General Edwin Sifuna has already signalled a return of running battles with security agencies to force the State allow Dr Miguna re-entry.

“All Kenyans of goodwill must come out to defend the Judiciary, the rule of law and court orders.

“To this end, ODM calls on Kenyans of goodwill, members of the bar, civil society and the church to come out at an appointed date next week to effect the court orders by arresting the convicted criminals; Fred Matiang’i (Interior CS), George Kinoti (the head of the Directorate of Criminal Investigations), Gordon Kihalangwa (Immigration chief) and Joseph Boinnet (Inspector General of Police), and bring these fugitives before the law,” he said.

Mr Odinga has been roundly criticised by his supporters mostly on social media, who feel that working with Mr Kenyatta is a political blunder.

They are demanding that he brings back his mojo to keep the government in check.

Critics of the handshake within Mr Odinga’s inner circle argue that Mr Kenyatta has demonstrated bad faith and that the opposition chief should not feel beholden to the ‘terms of the truce’.

Dr Miguna was refused entry into the country by the immigration officials on instructions from the State.

The government insists that he is not Kenyan and as such, requires a visiting visa.

But while some leaders have criticised the handshake, it still enjoys support from a section of Mr Odinga’s allies, who feel that the misgivings surrounding the handshake are misplaced.

“I think Orengo is frustrated with the Judiciary for its reluctance to enforce its own orders rather than the handshake itself,” a close ally of Mr Odinga based at his Capitol Hill office said.

“I have heard the grumbling but they should know that Miguna is his own worst enemy, the handshake is well-intentioned,” a second-term MP from the former South Nyanza, who sought anonymity, said.

But a leading figure in the Orange party accused his colleagues who still support the handshake of being blinded by fringe benefits coming their way as a result of the cooperation.

“We should not bury the ideals we believe in for the allure and luxury that comes with supporting the regime, what if it stinks?” the official wondered.

Uncharacteristic of him, Mr Odinga declined to speak about the recent developments in the political arena.

His spokesman Denis Onyango was also not available for comment.

Additional reporting by Peter Leftie

Untold costs on passengers, airlines caught up in Miguna drama

More by this Author

The famous handshake between President Uhuru Kenyatta and opposition leader Raila Odinga was expected to reverse the slide of the country’s image economically and politically.

After the two presidential elections between August and October 2017 that were bitterly disputed, and the legitimacy of the president in question, the country’s image locally and internationally was under serious scrutiny.

So much so that days before the government floated the Eurobond II, there were serious doubts if would-be investors would be as enthusiastic as they were on June 2014 when the government floated the debut Eurobond.

But even before the ink could dry on the agreement between the two, the promise of “building new bridges to a Kenyan nation” has been brought to sharp focus as a result of the events at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport that culminated in the bundling of self-styled NRM/NRA general Miguna Miguna into an airplane back to Dubai after three days of stand-off.

“This saga and its litany of arrogant characters are doing untold damage to our institutions,” former constitutional adviser to President Kenyatta Abdikadir Mohamed remarked on March 29 after Mr Miguna had been put on the plane to Dubai.

With the heavy deployment of regular and paramilitary police to seal off entire Terminal 2 at JKIA, the image of the airport and that of the country at large has been brought back on the spot. 

“Incidences of angry and irate passengers is worldwide but what matters is how authorities deal with it.

“The decision on who boards an aeroplane lies with the captain. You cannot force a hostile passenger into a plane.

“That is why captains have on numerous cases removed from aircrafts drunk and hostile passengers, all for the safety and comfort of the other passengers,” Captain Gad Kamau, the chairman of Wilson Airport Aircraft Operators, said.

Other than sealing off the terminal, the security personnel were also not shy to use brute force on journalists and lawyers alike, bringing back memories of months ago during opposition protests following the disputed presidential elections.

Government spokesman Eric Kiraithe did not respond to various attempts, including phone calls and text messages, regarding this story.

A lawyer for Dr Miguna, and the Senate Minority Leader James Orengo, says the events at JKIA were uncalled for and could easily damage Kenya’s diplomatic relations with other states.

“We are becoming a pariah state, exporting bad manners. I don’t understand why we would risk the good diplomatic ties we have had with the United Arab Emirates to satisfy an individual’s ego.

“Kenyans may be subjected to unnecessary scrutiny when travelling abroad,” Mr Orengo said.

As a result of the JKIA stand-off that ended with the deportation, again, of Dr Miguna to Dubai where he remains, pockets of demonstrations have been witnessed in parts of the country, especially Kisumu, the home county of the self-styled general.

According to Capt Kamau, other than the concern over the country’s image, the stand-off had untold costs to passengers, the airport and airlines that may not be quantifiable.

“The biggest cost is inconvenience. You can be sure a number of the passengers were connecting elsewhere and with the delay, some probably missed their connecting flights and had to stay at the airport in Dubai as they waited for the next available flight to their destinations,” he said.

And added, “For those who were transiting and hold passports that cannot allow entry in Dubai unless they apply for visa in the country of origin, it means you cannot leave the airport until one gets the next available connecting flight. These are costs that cannot be quantified,” he said.

Meanwhile, the first attempt to force Dr Miguna into the Emirates plane on Monday night hours after he arrived flopped after he refused to get in.

But this meant the Emirates aircraft with which he was to fly in being delayed by more than two hours, thus eating into the flight time limitations for crew of the aircraft.

“It would not be possible for the same crew to arrive in Dubai and head elsewhere if that was the airline’s plan before they exhaust their duty time limitations. This is a cost to the airline which has to get another crew,” the captain said.

Similarly, as the Emirates plane was occupying a gate for the extended period at JKIA, it also meant other aircrafts had to find other alternatives for passengers to board and disembark.

“Sometime, this would require use of buses to transfer passengers to and from the terminals,” he said.

The incident at JKIA also came just months to the expected start of direct flights between Nairobi and the US, after years of negotiations and investments in the improvement of the infrastructure and security at JKIA.

The inaugural flight by Kenya Airways to John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) in New York City is scheduled for October 28.

“You also wonder how those behind the deportation reason. You display such barbarism at an international airport at a time you have just got the nod to have direct flights to the US,” Mr Orengo said.

Capt Kamau, however, said while the Miguna incident at JKIA had image implications for Kenya, the planned direct flights to the US will not be affected in any way.

“That, in my view is a foregone conclusion. The delay in starting direct flights to the US, in my view was largely to do with the anti-terror laws which we have tightened,” Capt Kamau says.