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Danger in the fields: Discarded bombs maim Isiolo locals

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By VIVIAN JEBET
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What had started as just bad day for John Ndung’u after being sent away from school for arriving late turned tragic when an explosive device belonging to a scrap metal dealer who had visited his home exploded.

His father and the scrap metal dealer died on the spot while Ngung’u was left with painful scars that have affected his education.

The 19-year-old teenager recounts how, on the fateful day in 2010, he woke up, took breakfast and bid his father, mother and siblings’ good bye and rushed to school since he was late. By then he was a standard four pupil at Elsa Ntirim Primary School.

The family lived in Elsa Ntirim, a village in Isiolo which borders Meru County.

The boy, the seventh born in a family of nine, while at school, was sent back home since he was late.

“I then rushed back home after I was sent back for arriving a bit late,” he recalls.

He did not know that would be the last time he saw his father alive.

When he got home at around 9am, Ndung’u found a scrap metal dealer in their compound. He wanted to buy scrap metals. His father, mother and four siblings were outside.

The innocent scrap dealer was carrying some scrap items, one of which was an explosive. He might have collected it from the nearby military training ground, probably left behind by soldiers from the School of Infantry (SOI) in Burat ward, Isiolo County.

His mother had gone to their store to collect some metallic containers for sale.

“The dealer innocently hit one of the metals he had collected, and it exploded. I blacked out,” the 19-year-old recalls.

His father and the scrap metal dealer died on the spot. The explosion prompted the soldiers, whose camp is nearby, to rush to the scene. According to Ms Nyaruai, they collected the pieces of the explosive and left without a word.

Her mother rushed him to hospital and, days later, she buried her beloved husband in their compound.

Ndung’u, now a form one student at Tumbori Secondary School in Meru County, was hospitalised at Isiolo Referral Hospital and was in a comma for two months.

Ms Ann Nyaruai, his mother, 64, insists that Ndung’u, then aged 10, was a very energetic and determined boy who had bought himself two rabbits which multiplied to 150.

From the day of the explosion, Ndungu’s life changed. His health was affected and he is still suffering 10 years down the line.

He woke up from the two-month comma and stayed in the hospital for a while. The family had not broken news that his father had died. After being discharged from the hospital and shortly after arriving home, he spotted a grave in their compound.

“That is when I gathered courage and told my son that his father had died from the explosion. He was devastated,” said his mother.

Now, the 19-year-old says he is still psychologically traumatised. He sometimes misses school due to lack of fees and poor health.

He suffers from fatigue, chest and limb pains. He is also unable to walk for long distances.

“There are times when I stay at home for two weeks, missing school because I’m sick. But I thank God I survived the explosion,” he adds.

The family now wants the government to intervene and help Ndung’u get necessary treatment to remove the remaining metallic substances in his body. They also want to be compensated.

Ms Nyaruai’s effort to seek redress from military officials at the camp proved futile. She claims she was chased away by soldiers manning the gate when she went to ask help from the army to settle her son’s hospital bill.

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“The area is a food basket for Isiolo town. A majority of residents are farmers who are often disrupted by the military activities,” Ms Nyaruai said.

Several people have died, acquired permanent disabilities, been injured, suffered burns, developed hearing problems while others have been left with scars after unknowingly touching, playing with, carrying or hitting uncollected military ordnances in the area.

The ordnance abandoned by soldiers not only ruined Ndung’u’s dream of becoming a doctor but has also caused misery to many families in Kakili, Maili Saba, Maili Tano, BBC and Elsa Ntirim areas.

Ms Monica Athbital, a mother of four, vividly recalls how her life changed for the worse.

When she moved to Kakili village years ago, she hoped to make a decent living by engaging in farming since the area is very fertile.

Apart from farming, she occasionally engages in charcoal burning to fend for her young family since she is the sole bread winner after her husband deserted them.

One day, while she was fetching firewood at a nearby thicket, she claimed to have heard a gunshot and a bullet buzzed close by, missing her by luck.

While she was trying to contemplate what happened, she heard a second gunshot.

She next woke up at Isiolo Referral Hospital after a Good Samaritan intervened. A skull X-Ray revealed that a bullet had lodged in her skull.

She was later operated and the bullet removed, but she developed a hearing problem till date.

Mr Ibrahim Hussien, another victim, sustained injuries on his hand, legs and his private parts after a scrap metal dealer unknowingly sold him a bomb, which detonated as he went on with his daily activity as a blacksmith.

Mr Hussein decried the government’s failure to compensate victims, saying nobody seems to pay much attention despite cases of death being reported.

He said the army does not even cater for treatment.

There is also a tug-of-war over encroachment between the military and locals, with both factions claiming ownership.

But SOI Commandant John Warioba denied claims of military abandoning live explosives, saying soldiers do not fire bombs while training in the area but only fire small arms (rifles).

“When we want to do firing of bombs, we go far to Lalesoro, Samburu County; we don’t do any firing of high trajectory weapons. We have nothing to do with their allegations,” said the commandant.

He also maintained that no victim had complained or reported the matter to the military base.

On alleged encroachment, Mr Warioba said the military has clear boundaries with title deeds to prove ownership, adding that the matter is being handled by the National Land Commission (NLC).

“We have had two sittings with NLC on the same and they are yet to finalise on the issue, I cannot comment more,” the military official said.

Isiolo Governor Mohamed Kuti said there is need to have a thorough enclosure and relocate the military bases in Isiolo to isolated areas since the town is rapidly growing.

Dr Kuti held that there is tension between communities and the military since they are expanding their land and some bases are even claiming areas very close to the growing town.

“We have heard explosions, people maimed, serious injuries and people losing their limbs in areas where the military practices with live explosives and bullets. There is an urgent need to address the issue of explosives abandoned by both our army and the British army,” Mr Kuti said.



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General

Sordid tale of the bank ‘that would bribe God’

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Bank of Credit and Commerce International. August 1991. [File, Standard]

“This bank would bribe God.” These words of a former employee of the disgraced Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI) sum up one of the most rotten global financial institutions.
BCCI pitched itself as a top bank for the Third World, but its spectacular collapse would reveal a web of transnational corruption and a playground for dictators, drug lords and terrorists.
It was one of the largest banks cutting across 69 countries and its aftermath would cause despair to innocent depositors, including Kenyans.
BCCI, which had $20 billion (Sh2.1 trillion in today’s exchange rate) assets globally, was revealed to have lost more than its entire capital.
The bank was founded in 1972 by the crafty Pakistani banker Agha Hasan Abedi.
He was loved in his homeland for his charitable acts but would go on to break every rule known to God and man.
In 1991, the Bank of England (BoE) froze its assets, citing large-scale fraud running for several years. This would see the bank cease operations in multiple countries. The Luxembourg-based BCCI was 77 per cent owned by the Gulf Emirate of Abu Dhabi.  
BoE investigations had unearthed laundering of drugs money, terrorism financing and the bank boasted of having high-profile customers such as Panama’s former strongman Manual Noriega as customers.
The Standard, quoting “highly placed” sources reported that Abu Dhabi ruler Sheikh Zayed Sultan would act as guarantor to protect the savings of Kenyan depositors.
The bank had five branches countrywide and panic had gripped depositors on the state of their money.
Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) would then move to appoint a manager to oversee the operations of the BCCI operations in Kenya.
It sent statements assuring depositors that their money was safe.
The Standard reported that the Sheikh would be approaching the Kenyan and other regional subsidiaries of the bank to urge them to maintain operations and assure them of his personal support.
It was said that contact between CBK and Abu Dhabi was “likely.”
This came as the British Ambassador to the UAE Graham Burton implored the gulf state to help compensate Britons, and the Indian government also took similar steps.
The collapse of BCCI was, however, not expect to badly hit the Kenyan banking system. This was during the sleazy 1990s when Kenya’s banking system was badly tested. It was the era of high graft and “political banks,” where the institutions fraudulently lent to firms belonging or connected to politicians, who were sometimes also shareholders.
And even though the impact was expected to be minimal, it was projected that a significant number of depositors would transfer funds from Asian and Arab banks to other local institutions.
“Confidence in Arab banking has taken a serious knock,” the “highly placed” source told The Standard.
BCCI didn’t go down without a fight. It accused the British government of a conspiracy to bring down the Pakistani-run bank.  The Sheikh was said to be furious and would later engage in a protracted legal battle with the British.
“It looks to us like a Western plot to eliminate a successful Muslim-run Third World Bank. We know that it often acted unethically. But that is no excuse for putting it out of business, especially as the Sultan of Abu Dhabi had agreed to a restructuring plan,” said a spokesperson for British Asians.
A CBK statement signed by then-Deputy Governor Wanjohi Murithi said it was keenly monitoring affairs of the mother bank and would go to lengths to protect Kenyan depositors.
“In this respect, the CBK has sought and obtained the assurance of the branch’s management that the interests of depositors are not put at risk by the difficulties facing the parent company and that the bank will meet any withdrawal instructions by depositors in the normal course of business,” said Mr Murithi.
CBK added that it had maintained surveillance of the local branch and was satisfied with its solvency and liquidity.
This was meant to stop Kenyans from making panic withdrawals.
For instance, armed policemen would be deployed at the bank’s Nairobi branch on Koinange Street after the bank had announced it would shut its Kenyan operations.
In Britain, thousands of businesses owned by British Asians were on the verge of financial ruin following the closure of BCCI.
Their firms held almost half of the 120,000 bank accounts registered with BCCI in Britain. 
The African Development Bank was also not spared from this mess, with the bulk of its funds deposited and BCCI and stood to lose every coin.
Criminal culture
In Britain, local authorities from Scotland to the Channel Islands are said to have lost over £100 million (Sh15.2 billion in today’s exchange rate).
The biggest puzzle remained how BCCI was allowed by BoE and other monetary regulation authorities globally to reach such levels of fraudulence.
This was despite the bank being under tight watch owing to the conviction of some of its executives on narcotics laundering charges in the US.
Coast politician, the late Shariff Nassir, would claim that five primary schools in Mombasa lost nearly Sh1 million and appealed to then Education Minister George Saitoti to help recover the savings. Then BoE Governor Robin Leigh-Pemberton condemned it as so deeply immersed in fraud that rescue or recovery – at least in Britain – was out of the question.
“The culture of the bank is criminal,” he said. The bank was revealed to have targeted the Third World and had created several “institutional devices” to promote its operations in developing countries.
These included the Third World Foundation for Social and Economic Studies, a British-registered charity.
“It allowed it to cultivate high-level contacts among international statesmen,” reported The Observer, a British newspaper.
BCCI also arranged an annual Third World lecture and a Third World prize endowment fund of about $10 million (Sh1 billion in today’s exchange rate).
Winners of the annual prize had included Nelson Mandela (1985), sir Bob Geldof (1986) and Archbishop Desmond Tutu (1989).
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Monitor water pumps remotely via your phone

Tracking and monitoring motor vehicles is not new to Kenyans. Competition to install affordable tracking devices is fierce but essential for fleet managers who receive reports online and track vehicles from the comfort of their desk.

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Agricultural Development Corporation Chief Accountant Gerald Karuga on the Spot Over Fraud –

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Gerald Karuga, the acting chief accountant at the Agricultural Development Corporation (ADC), is on the spot over fraud in land dealings.

ADC was established in 1965 through an Act of Parliament Cap 346 to facilitate the land transfer programme from European settlers to locals after Kenya gained independence.

Karuga is under fire for allegedly aiding a former powerful permanent secretary in the KANU era Benjamin Kipkulei to deprive ADC beneficiaries of their land in Naivasha.

Kahawa Tungu understands that the aggrieved parties continue to protest the injustice and are now asking the Ethics and Anti-corruption Commission (EACC) and the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) to probe Karuga.

A source who spoke to Weekly Citizen publication revealed that Managing Director Mohammed Dulle is also involved in the mess at ADC.

Read: Ministry of Agriculture Apologizes After Sending Out Tweets Portraying the President in bad light

Dulle is accused of sidelining a section of staffers in the parastatal.

The sources at ADC intimated that Karuga has been placed strategically at ADC to safeguard interests of many people who acquired the corporations’ land as “donations” from former President Daniel Arap Moi.

Despite working at ADC for many years Karuga has never been transferred, a trend that has raised eyebrows.

“Karuga has worked here for more than 30 years and unlike other senior officers in other parastatals who are transferred after promotion or moved to different ministries, for him, he has stuck here for all these years and we highly suspect that he is aiding people who were dished out with big chunks of land belonging to the corporation in different parts of the country,” said the source.

In the case of Karuga safeguarding Kipkulei’s interests, workers at the parastatals and the victims who claim to have lost their land in Naivasha revealed that during the Moi regime some senior officials used dubious means to register people as beneficiaries of land without their knowledge and later on colluded with rogue land officials at the Ministry of Lands to acquire title deeds in their names instead of those of the benefactors.

Read Also: Galana Kulalu Irrigation Scheme To Undergo Viability Test Before Being Privatised

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“We have information that Karuga has benefitted much from Kipkulei through helping him and this can be proved by the fact that since the matter of the Naivasha land began, he has been seen changing and buying high-end vehicles that many people of his rank in government can’t afford to buy or maintain,” the source added.

“He is even building a big apartment for rent in Ruiru town.”

The wealthy officer is valued at over Sh1.5 billion in prime properties and real estate.

Last month, more than 100 squatters caused scenes in Naivasha after raiding a private firm owned by Kipkulei.

The squatters, who claimed to have lived on the land for more than 40 years, were protesting take over of the land by a private developer who had allegedly bought the land from the former PS.

They pulled down a three-kilometre fence that the private developed had erected.

The squatters claimed that the former PS had not informed them that he had sold the land and that the developer was spraying harmful chemicals on the grass affecting their livestock and homes built on a section of the land.

Read Also: DP Ruto Wants NCPB And Other Agricultural Bodies Merged For Efficiency

Naivasha Deputy County Commissioner Kisilu Mutua later issued a statement warning the squatters against encroaching on Kipkuleir’s land.

“They are illegally invading private land. We shall not allow the rule of the jungle to take root,” warned Mutua.

Meanwhile, a parliamentary committee recently demanded to know identities of 10 faceless people who grabbed 30,350 acres of land belonging to the parastatal, exposing the rot at the corporation.

ADC Chairman Nick Salat, who doubles up as the KANU party Secretary-General, denied knowledge of the individuals and has asked DCI to probe the matter.

Email your news TIPS to [email protected] or WhatsApp +254708677607. You can also find us on Telegram through www.t.me/kahawatungu

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William Ruto eyes Raila Odinga Nyanza backyard

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Deputy President William Ruto will next month take his ‘hustler nation’ campaigns to his main rival, ODM leader Raila Odinga’s Nyanza backyard, in an escalation of the 2022 General Election competition.

Acrimonious fall-out

Development agenda

Won’t bear fruit

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