Saturday, April 10, 2010



By Kipchumba Some
APRIL 10 2010

In the run-up to the 2007 General Election, thousands of AP officers were summoned to their training college in Nairobi for an undisclosed mission. They were oathed, even as their colleagues from a certain region were thrown out of camp. It turned out that they were to act as agents of President Kibaki’s Party of National Unity. They were further shocked by the appearance of a commissioner and top officials of ECK who trained them on how to stuff ballot papers.

They feared for their security but were paid handsomely and later several were killed by mobs in South Nyanza. Without a word on what exactly happened or compensation, it is an agonising experience for families of those who were killed or lost without a trace. For more than two years now Mrs Pauline Njeri Kabiru has been hoping her son constable William Nyamu of force number 2003052252 would return home and end her anguish.

Nyamu was part of the contingent of 1,607 Administration Police officers deployed in Nyanza Province on the night of December 24, 2007, just three days to the December 27 elections, to act as polling agents of Party of National Unity."He informed us on December 24 that he was going to work in Nyanza and would be back on the December 28, but that was not to be. We are still keeping faith that he would return," says his distraught mother.

After six months of waiting in vain for her son’s return, a delegation from the AP headquarters visited her in June 2008, and confirmed her worst fears: her son was indeed missing. "They told me that he might have died in the operation, but could not be certain," said Kabiru. "I cried for days on end." They informed her that it would take seven years before he is declared legally dead.

"It is painful to lose a child. It is even more tormenting not to know whether he is dead or alive. It would have been better if I had seen his body and buried it," she adds.

Full list

Constable Nyamu was stationed in Kericho and was barely a year old in the force.
In an interview with The Standard on Saturday at Kwa Mwaura village, Nyariguni area, Ndaiga division, Laikipia East District, Kabiru declined to give us a photo of her son or to have hers taken. But in its investigation The Standard on Saturday obtained the full list of the officers sent to Nyanza, indicating their force numbers. The list also contains the amount of money they were paid for the job.

The Standard on Saturday has names of some officers allegedly killed during the operation. The Standard on Saturday also heard of heart-rending ordeals the officers went through in Nyanza as irate ODM supporters hunted them down like wild animals.

Meanwhile, the Government is maintaining a stony silence over the whole matter with rumours running high of a cover-up to conceal from the public the truth about the whole operation. Neither the AP high command nor senior Government officials were ready to comment on the story or provide details on the number of officers killed, missing or injured.

Jane Wambui, a mother of four, will never understand why her husband of 24 years, constable George Mwangi Githuathi of force number 81010355 died.
"We know that officers die in the line of duty, but was whatever he was going to do worth his life?" she poses. "The State sent him there and they have the answer to that question," she adds.

Githuati was killed at a roadblock in Migori town where ODM supporters were screening vehicles for the officers after they learnt that a number of them had been sent to the region to steal votes. "On December 25, we got a call from his mobile phone. Then a strange voice asked whether we knew the owner of the phone. We said yes. The man on the other end said they were going to kill him," recounts his widow.

Githuati, who hailed from Watuka village, Mweiga division, Nyeri District, had served the force for 26 years, since 1981. After several months of searching, they finally found his body and transported it back to his home for burial. "It was a bitter moment for me. We had lost the central pillar of our family," she said.

Internal Security Permanent Secretary Francis Kimemia did not respond to our requests for comment. Assistant minister in the same ministry Orwa Ojode said he did not have information concerning the whole issue since it happened before his appointment.

Contacted for comment AP Commandant Kinuthia Mbugua referred us to AP spokesman Masoud Munyi. Munyi declined to disclose the number of the officers killed saying, "It would evoke bad memories for the families of the affected soldiers." "Kindly let us comfortably leave it at that. It is not in anybody’s interest to dwell on such things for that long. Those are things that happened long ago and need not to be pursued at this time," he said.

But time has not healed the scar constable Charles Kibet* sustained in the head during the operation. He struggled to find appropriate words to describe the near-death ordeal he went through on evening of December 25, 2007, at Nyandhiwa village, Suba District."It was horrible. It was like a horror movie. Everybody was shouting and chasing us. We did not have anything to protect our selves with. We were at the mercy of the angry villagers," he said.

Constable Kibet survived the ordeal with a machete cut to his head. He pleaded to be pardoned on account of his tribe. "I told them I was a Kalenjin, thus could not be their enemy," he says.

At the time the Kalenjin and Luo were solidly united behind ODM presidential candidate Raila Odinga who became Prime Minister after the February 28, 2008,
power-sharing deal.

Castration threat

Another officer constable Richard Momanyi was lucky to have survived without injuries. He was attacked while looking for his station at Uriri trading centre.
"They beat me up, held me down and threatened to castrate me. I pleaded with them that I was not their enemy. I gave them all the money I had. A highway traffic patrol officer who found me escorted me to Kisii and gave me money to go home.

At Sori trading centre in Migori District, the locals described to this writer how they killed an AP inspector on the afternoon of Christmas Day. "He alighted from a bus and started acting suspiciously. When we asked him who he was, he reached out to his breast pocket. We thought he was removing a gun and that is when we lynched
him," said a local.

At Homa Bay Police Station, an officer told this writer that 22 APs aboard a City Hoppa bus were dropped at the town. "We only rescued nine and do not know what happened to the rest of them," he said.

Several female officers were also deployed for the operation. A senior source within the AP disclosed to us that some of them, including the daughter of a senior AP adjutant, were raped. However, the female officers were reluctant to talk to the press about their ordeal.

*The real names of Constable Charles Kibet and Richard Momanyi have been changed to protect their identities since they are still serving in the force. *We could not ascertain the force number of constable Joseph Kioko who is believed to have