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Double trouble for victims turned suspects

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By BRIAN WASUNA
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When six attackers stormed 14 Riverside Drive on January 14, they first detonated explosives which sent debris flying through windows in some of the buildings in the complex.

At Grosvenor, one of the buildings, Bryson Mwamburi and his colleagues looked out the window after hearing gunshots. The Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT) student opted to run upstairs, as the attackers shot at people outside.

On the seventh floor, he hid on a balcony and managed to tweet about the attack.

“Guys, terrorists are shooting Riverside Drive. Call the police and pray for me,” he posted on his Twitter account.

Bryson declined an interview request from the Saturday Nation but had earlier told the BBC what he went through as police initially thought that the JKUAT student was working with the Riverside terrorists.

While mistaken identity is nothing new to Kenyans, many have paid heavily for being in the wrong place at the wrong time, with some winding up in prison only to be released later after the discovery that they actually are innocent.

While still on the balcony, Bryson noticed glass suddenly shattering behind him. Bryson looked up and saw someone on another building balcony who shot at him again — but missed.

He finally used a fire escape to get out of the building, and climbed up a fence in the back of the complex where police officers were aiding others. After crawling to the officers, one of them handcuffed Bryson and bundled him into a police vehicle.

Nearly 40 minutes later, the JKUAT student was at Kileleshwa Police Station where he spent the night.

“At some point, I think due to anxiety, I was going into shock. So I tried to flag some ambulance people, I told the police I’m going into shock. They ask “What is shock?” I was taken to the station, no bookings were made, no occurrence book number recorded, no statements were taken,” Bryson said in the BBC interview, still looking traumatised by the ordeal.

On Friday, the High Court in Nyeri released Abdul Kibiringi, James Mwai Mwangi and Habiba Gedi Hunshur who have been in police custody all week.

The court on Monday allowed the Anti-Terror police to hold the suspects for five days as detectives investigated allegations that the three were had been in communication with the attackers that struck 14 Riverside Drive on January 15.

Police initially suspected the three may have links to other members of terrorist group Al Shabaab. But yesterday officers told the court that after investigations, none of the individuals could be linked to terror.

There were mixed reactions on social media over their release, pointing to one of the most undesirable effects of mistaken identity arrests.

After terrorists struck the Westgate Mall in 2014, Paul Omulokoli and a few of his friends opted to register as Red Cross volunteers at Visa Oshwal, which is near the Westgate Mall.

Coincidentally, Paul is also an RPF member.

During a shift change, some volunteers noticed Paul was not wearing a Red Cross vest and reported him to the police. Minutes after a short interrogation, the Anti-Terror Police Unit officers whisked Paul to Parklands police station.

The engineer would spend the next four days in a cell before being released.

Much like Bryson, hundreds of people who knew Paul took to social media demanding his release.

Paul also declined an interview request, arguing that the ordeal was still traumatising more than five years later.

Still at 14 Riverside, lawyer Memba Muriuki also found himself in custody shortly after the attack.

On hearing the gunshots, the lawyer brandished his gun in an attempt to help the early responders from neighbouring police stations. But he was instead arrested after officers thought that he was with the attackers.

The lawyer was assaulted at the scene and later in Kileleshwa.

Memba was eventually released when officers confirmed he is a licensed gun owner.

The lawyer also declined a request for an interview. A video uploaded on YouTube by Africa Uncensored depicting Memba’s assault was later pulled down upon the lawyer’s request.

Mistaken identity is not unique to terrorist attacks.

The future looked bright for Harrison Murigi in 2004. He had a promising green grocer business, was just two years into marriage and had a one-year-old daughter.

But he will never forget December 16, the same year. Harrison was on his way to Nyeri for a funeral, he made a quick stop at Kibirigwi where a business meeting was to take place.

After alighting, Harrison was on phone with his friend when a speeding vehicle knocked him down. Suspected robbers were in the vehicle that was being pursued by police.

Harrison was arrested on suspicion of being the robbers’ getaway driver.

After being sentenced to death for robbery with violence in 2006, he spent the next 10 years appealing the decision. On October 4, 2016 he was finally exonerated and set free.

Reunited with his wife Susan Wangui who attended every court session over the years, it appeared that Harrison would get a semblance of the life he dreamed of.

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But one year later, his Susan died during child birth. The twins she was delivering however made it, and Harrison is raising them.

Harrison now says he accepted what had happened, and has moved on.

“When I walked out of prison, I decided I was never going to look back. I just decided to move on and raise my three children. The first born is now in secondary school. I do casual jobs to get enough money to take care of my family,” Harrison told the Saturday Nation.

On the evening of August 3, 2018 critically acclaimed author Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor was in Lavington looking to buy baobab oil.

Shortly after stepping out of Healthy U store in the area, she noticed people running around and asked a man standing next to her what was happening.

Rather than answer her, the man started to wrestle her. Thinking she was being robbed, Yvonne decided to fight back. The man took Yvonne’s mobile phone and assaulted her, injuring her arm in the process.

Before long, she had been arrested for hawking in the Lavington area. The man wrestling her turned out to be a City Hall Inspectorate officer and the commotion was a swoop on hawkers.

She was charged at the City Court on August 6, causing massive uproar from Kenyans on social media. This escalated when photos of a tired, distraught-looking Yvonne with a sling holding her left arm was posted on social media.

Igor Mejaski, owner of Blue Lagoon Water Sports in Mombasa, also found himself a guest of the State for 48 hours in March, 2009 when police officers confused him for Yugoslavian war criminal Ratko Mladic. The businessman was accosted by nearly 20 armed men who searched his office before detaining him.

He was grilled by then provincial police boss King’ori Mwangi and provincial criminal investigations officer Nyagah Reche.

It was only after Interpol confirmed he was not the man being searched for that Igor was released from the Mombasa Port Police Station.

Experts advise that those arrested mistakenly should be compensated.

Nick Ouma, a partner at Odhiambo Oronga & Company Advocates, holds that many people who are exonerated opt out of pursuing damages from the State for malicious prosecution because the process of getting compensation from government is difficult, time consuming and often frustrating.

He adds that in cases where charges are withdrawn by the State before a final determination, the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions will mostly drop the case under section 87(a) of the Criminal Procedure Code, rather than 87(b).

Under section 87(a), if the DPP’s office withdraws charges against an accused person before he or she has been called upon to state their defence, then the release is not unconditional in that a fresh arrest and prosecution process can be started over the same offence.

But under 87(b), if the charges are withdrawn after an accused person has been called upon to state his or her defence, then the matter rests for good.

“Most people don’t know (that you can seek damages). But it is a rigorous process. The process of getting money from government is usually difficult. But most people think releasing you is a favour, that they (the courts and authorities) have let you off the hook,” Mr Ouma said.

Israeli trained security analyst Richard Tuta says mistaken identity is not a strange phenomenon, and that the only thing that should cause concern is a huge increase in such cases.

Mr Tuta holds that security officers are trained to be pessimistic when fighting crime, which will inevitably lead to some isolated cases of mistaken identity.

But even with that, he adds that security officers must have spotted something with a certain individual for them to arrest and detain him or her.

“Security officers have very little time to make a judgment on action to take in such situations. Suppose they let you go, then it turns out one year later that they released the criminal they were looking for. As a society we must know that fighting crime and terror always comes with collateral damage. If they let you go, and it turns out you’re a criminal, the damage will be more severe than if it turns out to be the reverse,” Mr Tuta said.

“But that is why you have the leeway to seek damages in court if the arrest was malicious or wrongful. So that you can be restored to where you were. That is where the court comes in, to supplement that which you feel has been taken from you,” Mr Tuta added.

The analyst holds that security officers consider several factors before making the call to arrest or let someone go. Behaviour, movement and appearance (dressing) are some of the factors he lists.

“Everybody coming out of a terrorist attack scene for instance is a victim, but is also a suspect. Nobody will ever come out and say “I am a terrorist” so the security officers have to be very careful,” Mr Tuta said.

Additional reporting by Joseph Wangui



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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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