Friday, March 19, 2010



By Juma Kwayera

A deputy PC has been reported missing after receiving death threats.
The family of Mr Oku Kaunya, who is Nyanza deputy PC, told The Standard On Saturday he has not been seen for three days.

Kaunya was, until his posting in January as Deputy Provincial Commissioner for Nyanza Central, the Administration Police Deputy Commandant based at the formation’s training school in Embakasi, Nairobi.His wife on Friday recorded a statement with the Kisumu police over the disappearance of her husband.

Mrs Millicent Kaunya first moved to the Nyanza Provincial Investigations Officer (PCIO) office where she had brief discussion with Sebastian Ndaru, the PCIO, before recording a statement.

"I have not seen my husband for the last three days. His phones are off and nobody can tell his whereabouts. I have not received any communication from the Government and decided to report his disappearance to the police," she told The Standard on Saturday during an exclusive interview.But Mr Ndaru declined to talk to the Press and instead referred us to the PPO Njue Njagi and the PC Francis Mutie. Mr Mutie’s phone was not answered, even after trying to reach him several times.

However, Njagi said the PC was in a better position to tell us about the disappearance of the administrator."You should be asking me where the OCPD and my officers are and not the deputy PC or DC. That question you should refer to the PC," He said, in a telephone interview.
Before Kaunya disappeared, security men at his residence in Kisumu and his official driver had received death threats from a senior Administration Police officer in the Rapid Deployment Unit, a special squad with no definite mandate.

Mrs Kaunya, the driver, and the guard recorded statements at the Nyanza Provincial Police headquarters. She told The Standard On Saturday she last saw and spoke to her husband on Tuesday morning, when she travelled to Siaya from Kisumu, to arrange for her mother’s burial.

When she returned to Kisumu, she was informed her husband had asked to be taken to the Kisumu Airport, but did not disclose his destination.What is intriguing, she says, is that there is no sign he left the airport because there is no evidence of it on flight manifests in Kisumu.

She says a call was made to her husband by some sources that an offer of Sh3 million had been placed on his head."I was at the mortuary to collect the body of my mother when my husband called me to come home urgently. When I arrived, I found him shaken and worried about his life. He told me that those people who want to kill him had placed Sh3 million for his head and do not know what to do," she said.

Mission to kill

Contacted, Kaunya’s lawyer Aja Olubayi said he spoke to his client on Wednesday from an undisclosed location. Mr Olubayi said he had been expecting the Deputy PC in Nairobi to discuss the statement he had recorded with the police about the threats to his life."Lately, Kaunya has resorted to putting up with friends because he was constantly being trailed by people he suspected were on a mission to kill him," said the lawyer. He said the last time he met his client was on March 4, before he left for Kisumu the following day. He recorded a statement about the threats on his life and family, with PPO Western on March 8.

The disappearance of Kaunya comes at a time potential witnesses in post-election violence trials at the International Criminal Court (ICC) have alleged torment and increased threats by potential suspects, forcing them into hiding for lack of State protection.

Kaunya was the commandant of the AP Training School, where it is alleged the results of the presidential poll were manipulated.

It is also widely believed the planners and financiers of post-election chaos fear the Deputy PC is a vital source of information ICC Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo requires to build an incontrovertible case against post-election violence suspects.

After months of dragging its feet, the Cabinet last month adopted amendments to the Witness Protection Act, which are awaiting passage by Parliament. Key among the revisions is a proposal for the formation of an independent agency to ensure safety of witnesses who seek State protection.

Kaunya’s tribulations began when his boss AP Commandant Kinuthia Mbugua disapproved of his promotion, which placed them at par. The promotion precipitated an "insignia clash" with the AP chief alleging insubordination by his deputy. Mbugua tenures as AP boss expire on March 30. Kaunya was sent to Thailand on official duty when the Waki Commission was collecting information on post-election violence.

On return, he was sent on study leave at the National Defence College (NDC) in Karen, Nairobi. He was redeployed in Kisumu as deputy PC, eight months before he could graduate at NDC.

News of his ‘disappearance’ come two weeks after Kaunya deposited a comprehensive statement at the Kakamega provincial headquarters on March 8, in which he said his life was threatened.The statement raises serious questions about the AP command. Some of the threats were in the form of text messages, one of which warned of his imminent death and those of his driver and guard.

In the statement, a copy of which was deposited with his lawyer and which The Standard on Saturday has, says on February 17, the missing civil servant had been informed of a squad of AP officers having been dispatched from Nairobi to Kisumu on unspecified "operation" duties.

"The information indicated the undisclosed operation could involve life-threatening tasks. Neither the exact mission of the operation nor the names of the officers involved in this exercise was clear from available information," the statement says.
Reached for comment, Internal Security Assistant Minister Orwa Ojode said he was not aware of the disappearance of the officer, but urged the missing officer’s wife to record a statement with the police. She had recorded the statement by the time Mr Ojode spoke.


In the statement, Kaunya further says the officers were also seen in Malaba, Kakamega, Teso, Kisumu and Eldoret towns."I later learnt one of the officers involved in the alleged operation had on February 19 called my former driver based in Nairobi by name Thomas Lekalkul, enquiring where the school am patron was located in Malaba," the statement reads.The presence of the squad in western Kenya coincided with murders of businessmen in Kisumu, Busia and Kakamega.

"I sought clarifications from the OCPD Teso, who confirmed the officers were indeed APs from APTC, but their duties were suspicious. The suspicions were based on various findings. Firstly, the officers on the initial interrogation at the Malaba Police Station alleged they were on bus escort duties, but on further interrogation by the DCIO Teso the following day, they changed and said they had been sent by Mr Omar Shurie to search for computers reportedly stolen from APTC," Kaunya says in the statement.
Additional reporting by Anderson Ojwang and Peter Atsiaya