Wednesday, October 22, 2008

BREAKING NEWS: Naivasha killings planned at State House

The Waki Commission received credible evidence to the effect that the violence in Naivasha between 27th and 30th January 2008 was pre-planned and executed by Mungiki members who received the support of Naivasha political and business leaders.

The Commission is also in possession of incriminating evidence that government and political leaders in Nairobi, including key office holders at the highest level of government may have directly participated in the preparation of the attacks. Central to that planning were two meetings held in State House and Nairobi Safari Club in the run up to the election with the involvement of senior members of Government and other prominent Kikuyu personalities.

Evidence produced by NSIS suggests that this agency was collecting information on the planning of violence in Naivasha by Mungiki members and politicians, at both local and national level. As early as January 3, 2008, NSIS had information that two former MPs of the Kikuyu community were “said to be negotiating with the outlawed Mungiki with a view to have sect members assist the community to counter their attackers” and that Mungiki members were meeting “in an undisclosed location in Nairobi with a view to carrying revenge attacks on Luos/Kalenjins travelling along Nairobi-Naivasha highway on undisclosed date.”

On January 15, NSIS was informed that Mungiki members were planning to discredit the Government by instigating chaos in Nairobi and Nakuru “while others would raid Kamiti and Naivasha Prisons to rescue their colleagues held there among them (Maina) Njenga.” This supported information presented to us in camera by a senior police officer in Naivasha who had learned on January 9 that “there was a likelihood of the so-called Mungiki making way into prison with the intention of whisking away the chairman (Mr Maina Njenga) who is currently held in that particular prison.”

Following up on this information, the Naivasha District Security and Intelligence Committee (DSIC), chaired by the district commissioner, decided on January 9, 2008 to increase patrols within the town and additional officers were sought from the Naivasha Prisons to assist the police. The Naivasha Prisons commandant, Duncan Ogore, confirmed having received such request for assistance and having furnished some prison warders to the OCPD Naivasha to help in patrolling the town up to January 27, 2008. On January 21, NSIS received precise information on part of the planned operation of violence in Naivasha, to the effect that Kikuyu youth in Naivasha “plan to block Nakuru-Naivasha and Gilgil-Mai Mahiu roads, to block/intercept vehicles from Western and Nyanza regions to fish out the targeted communities,” which is exactly what happened on January 27.

According to evidence presented by the KNCHR, local politicians received support from Kikuyu elite from outside Naivasha to mobilise local jobless youth who were bolstered by Mungiki followers from Nairobi and Central Province. KNCHR had evidence of two planning meetings held on January 23 and 26 that a local hotel where influential Naivasha business people plotted the violence and paid between Sh100 and Sh200 to the youth, who would participate in the attacks targeting mainly members of the Luo community.

Political activist
Information of these planning meetings and participants was corroborated by individual witnesses, including two Naivasha social workers and activists. According to witnesses, evidence that Mungiki were involved in violence in Naivasha includes a high level of coordination of the attackers, many of whom were not Naivasha residents, as well as inside intelligence obtained from Mungiki members involved in the violence.

A Kikuyu political activist who testified in camera told us that she learned from an aide to Ndura Waruinge, Mungiki national coordinator, that Mungiki was not responsible for all the violence in Naivasha, and that one “could differentiate the Mungiki from the locals, because where Mungiki went, they were not looting, they were just destroying properties. But with the locals, they were looting.” She further testified that the attacks happened at the same time, around 9am, in the estates of Kayole, Kabati, Kihooto and Karagita, and so she thought the attackers “were dropped at those areas and they had orders (to) start at 9am”, which she characterised “as having the Mungiki type of organisation.”

A former MP
Acting either on NSIS or on its own intelligence, the Naivasha DSIC gathered similar information with regard to a number of politicians and businessmen whom it suspected of financing and organising the gangs they believed to be Mungiki, which were responsible for the Naivasha violence. Those who the DSIC recommended for arrest for financing and organising the violence included a former MP of the Kikuyu community and other prominent Kikuyu personalities, whose names were provided to the Commission. Further information in possession of the DSIC was that prior to the attacks, a number of meetings were held at a hotel in Naivasha whose owner was allegedly also involved in the planning and that a former MP from the area was the master mind.

The names of the individuals, who not only purchased the pangas (machetes) from a local supermarket for use by the attackers who had been transported from outside Naivasha, but also directed the attacks on the ground were also made available to the Commission. The Commission established that response to the PEV in Naivasha by security agencies and district administration reflected the same poor planning and lack of professionalism and independence as was evident in other parts of the Rift Valley Province.

The police were obviously overwhelmed by the magnitude of the violence, but breaks in the chain of command and parallel ethnic command structures within the police meant that even with the best of planning, the police were too weak as an institution adequately to respond to the violence in Naivasha.

Persons in danger
The Commission also received ample evidence to the effect that police and administration authorities were overwhelmed by the magnitude of the violence. The Naivasha DC and OCPD testified that in the morning of January 27 they had to deal with 2 to 3 groups of demonstrators each and that they spent too much time and energy in addressing each group at a time while trying to disperse the crowds and clear road blocks, before moving to the next group of demonstrators. A community leader who appeared before us in camera and had been personally involved with the police in helping rescue persons in danger, testified as follows:

“Q: Now, may be you need to go back to the date of 27th. What can you recall about that date that is significant for Commissioners?

Witness: There was a lot of violence and I can say, it is like the police were overwhelmed and there was no law in Naivasha on that day and also on 29th.

“The Police were just overwhelmed. Like when I went to the police station trying to get any police officer even to talk, when I got there I talked to the OCPD and then he started getting calls.

“I tried to organise the people somehow and we tried to call others. I told them to call their friends to know if they were all safe. So we started making calls and we found people who were trapped in their houses.

“They couldn’t come to the police station or go to the GK Prison. I started coordinating with the police on how to go and evacuate those people who were trapped and sometimes it was just difficult because the police vehicles were not enough. It was just chaotic. Sometimes we were getting very desperate.”

Among the causes of police failure to adequately respond to the violence was the breach in the chain of command within the force.

The Commission was provided with abundant examples of junior officers refusing to take orders from their superiors and placing ethnic loyalty before professional ethical conduct.

The community leader involved in the police operations at the time testified as follows:

“Q: Did you get the sense the police who were doing the best they could but were overwhelmed or was there incompetence amongst the police officers or other security agencies?

Witness: On the first day, that was on 27th, I thought that the police were being overwhelmed. But during that week when we stayed at the police station camp, because the last person we evacuated was on Thursday and I could tell that there was some defiance.

“The junior officers, particularly from the Kikuyu tribe, were not ready to take instructions from their superiors; and I can say, for example, there is a time we went to evacuate a terminally ill lady who was trapped inside an estate and getting the officers to come, they were just defiant, they were just running and saying that it is the deputy OCPD, because it was the deputy OCPD, Grace Kakai, who was giving them those instructions. They were saying that she is just being bossy.”

We were presented with ample evidence suggesting that the same ethnic fault line that divided the community in Naivasha also affected security agencies.

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