Evidence in court painted a picture of interference by senior government officials

By , K24 Digital
On Wed, 24 Jul, 2019 00:00 | 3 mins read
Eric Wainaina @PeopleDailyKe

The names of a Cabinet secretary, a governor, county commissioner and a Ward Rep were  dragged into the killings witnessed at the troubled Kihiu Mwiri land company in Murang’a, where a ruthless mafia had reigned for years.

 The mafia is suspected of being behind the assassination of seven officials and is allegedly behind the disappearance of four others.

The details emerged even as the hope for justice for the killed and missing persons were shattered after a High Court sitting in Kiambu acquitted 18 people charged with killing four of the directors, whose murders were linked to a vicious battle of the control of the firm’s 1, 285 acres of land.

Accused persons

The accused were Joseph Thiongo, Henry Ngugi, Julius Kanyiri, John Njoroge, Harrison Kibade, Joseph Muchui, Benard Murigi, Josphat Macharia, Mary Mugechi, Joseph Nyamu, Patrick Ikuu, Samuel Ikuu, Peter Mburu, Peter Murigi, Zacharia Ngaruiya, John Kamau, Simon Ngugi and David Muiruri.

They had been charged with perpetrating the shooting and killing of Wilfred Gichana, Charles Ngugi, Peter Kimani, Paul Muhuhi, Zachary Chege and Josphat Kibe in incidents, which occurred on March 25 and July 29 of  2014 in Murang’a and Kiambu.

Justice Joel Ngugi, in a ruling delivered last week, said though it was clear that the atrocities were committed, the prosecution did not have any evidence linking the accused to the murders.

The judge has since been moved to Nakuru and is among those recommended by Judiciary Service Commission  to be appointed to the Court of Appeal.

But it’s during the hearing, that the officials—some who were officials and staff at the company—laid bare grave claims in which they linked a firm associated with the CS, a county chief, administrators and a Member of the County Assembly as people who had illegally acquired land there.

An analysis of the evidence adduced by the prosecution witnesses, some of who requested to be heard in camera for the fear of reprisal, painted a picture of interference by senior government officials who were allegedly on a mission to protect their interests.

So feared were the said persons that in the words of Justice Ngugi who presided over the case, “invoked fear and terror among denizens of Kihiu Mwiri”.

In his ruling, Justice Ngugi said during the trial, the witnesses would speak in hushed tones on the CS’s linked company-Breeze Farm, which witnesses said owned at least 134 acres, and would get terrified while mentioning the names of the directors.

 One of the witnesses, who testified in camera, said some acres were carved from their land and sold to Breeze Farm, although he noted that while the sale agreement indicated that only 134 acres was sold, 240 acres were sold to the company.

“There are rich and powerful people who were irregularly awarded land. (The former County Commissioner) got 40 acres, (the governor) got 34 acres, (The DC) got three quarters (the DO) and the chief got a quarter each. The chief sold to third party. All these persons were not shareholders of Kihiu Mwiri,” he said.

“There are other senior people who got bigger plots than typical shareholders.  An MCA (for example) got four quarters as well. There are also rich people who bought parcels using fake certificates,” reads part of the ruling.

The evidence regarding the alleged illegal land allocation however did not make part of the ruling that freed the accused, 14 of who were never put on defence, and none of the mentioned persons or their representatives appeared in court.

Firm registration

Kihiu Mwiri Company was registered in 1970 but later become a graveyard for its officials after two rival groups opened parallel officers, although the killing stopped after the government, through the Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i and the then Inspector General Joseph Boinett intervened.

Other directors who lost their lives to the company wrangles are Chrispas Wanyoike, and Chege Mwangi who were shot dead on the Kihiu Mwiri-Kabati road in July 2015.

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