Monthly Archives: July 2013

Kethi Kilonzo faces fraud charge over voter registration saga

Nairobi, Kenya: Police investigations into the controversy surrounding lawyer Kethi Kilonzo’s registration as a voter are almost complete and detectives say they have a case.

Kethi Kilonzo argues her case before the IEBC tribunal at the Milimani Law Courts where TNA successfully proved she was not a validly registered voter. PHOTO: EVANS HABIL/STANDARD

Kethi Kilonzo argues her case before the IEBC tribunal at the Milimani Law Courts where TNA successfully proved she was not a validly registered voter. PHOTO: EVANS HABIL/STANDARD

It raises the spectre of fraud charges being laid against one of Kenya’s brightest young lawyers, who just weeks ago, was seen as the poster child of the next generation of the country’s lawyers.

Kethi was Wednesday expected to record a statement with the Criminal Investigations Department, according to police sources, but she had not turned up by 4pm.

This is the latest development in the fallout over the recently concluded Makueni Senate by-election that her brother Mutula Kilonzo Jnr won by a landslide.

On Wednesday, a senior investigating officer close to the investigations told The Standard, “…there is a case so far,” adding that the file will be forwarded to the Director of Public Prosecutions Keriako Tobiko later next week.

“The probe is ongoing and we expected Kethi today (Wednesday) to record a statement. We will send the file to DPP with recommendations later next week. There is a case so far,” said the detective who declined to be named as he is not authorised to speak about the case.

Should the CID recommend prosecution, it would stir the controversy that stalked the lead up to the by-election that degenerated into a showdown betweenCORD and Jubilee.

Serious claim

The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission called in the police after officials claimed the registration slip that Kethi presented as proof of registration as a voter had been stolen from the commission.

IEBC chairman Issack Hassan wrote to CID director Ndegwa Muhoro inviting him to investigate the saga.

In the run up to the by-election occasioned by the death of her father Mutula Kilonzo, Kethi had been cleared by the returning officer in Makueni. But her nomination was contested before an IEBC tribunal tasked with arbitrating electoral disputes and revoked.

During the hearings, IEBC Director of Voter Registration and Electoral Operations Immaculate Kassait claimed the slip was one of five missing from the booklet and the matter was already under probe.

IEBC made a serious claim that the slip used by Kethi for nomination was stolen from a booklet in which only one other slip had been used to register former President Kibaki.

It is the basis upon which the IEBC team, chaired by Commissioner Thomas Letangule, ordered IEBC to investigate how the slip was acquired particularly because Kethi stood her ground that the slip was officially issued to her during registration last year.

IEBC Nominations Dispute Resolution Committee consequently revoked her nomination, but Kethi and the Wiper party (under CORD) that nominated her challenged the decision at the High Court.

A three-judge bench ruled against Kethi’s petition to participate in Makueni’s senatorial by-election but allowed the party to nominate a fresh candidate. The judges said there was no evidence suggesting Wiper was privy to information Kethi was not eligible for nomination.

The Elections Act requires a party that knowingly nominates a candidate not qualified by law be barred from participating in the election.

Under the Penal Code, forging any judicial or official document or presenting it officially, if proven, attracts up to seven years’ imprisonment.

At the height of the controversy, the Jubilee coalition urged CORD to take responsibility for aiding their by-election aspirant commit election fraud.

Desperate attempt

Led by Majority Leader in the Senate Prof Kithure Kindiki, Jubilee rebuffed claims by former Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka that TNA had deleted Kethi’s name from the IEBC register, terming the utterances as a diversionary tactic to the serious crime of electoral fraud facing their candidate.

“We are shocked by the malicious and alarmist statement made by Kalonzo, which we feel is a desperate attempt to divert attention from the serious crime of fraud, forgery and myriad other electoral offences which have been exposed,” said Kindiki.

He said the CORD leadership should explain how security documents in the custody of IEBC were found with Kethi, even as they called on investigators to dig into the crime and prosecute those responsible for theft.

The Jubilee senators said Kethi was a victim of intimidation and coercion by CORD leaders who eventually dragged her into crime; she now faces the possibility of a jail term.

“In Kenya, we have a crime called handling stolen items and it is upon those found with the items to explain how they got hold of them,” said Prof Kindiki. “The onus of proof is not on TNA and not evenIEBC. It is on the person found in possession of the documents.”

The Standard

What Moi did as rebel army men tried to overthrow Government

The rotary phone at Lt. General (Rtd) Lazaro Kipkurui Sumbeiywo’s bedside rang rudely at 5:30am on August 1, 1982. He picked up the phone and grunted a ‘hallo’ into the handset, his other hand groping for his watch.

Members of the public monitor information on the foiled coup.

Members of the public monitor information on the foiled coup.

It was his elder brother, the late Elijah Kipkosgei Sumbeiywo, the commander of the presidential escort, on the other end of the line.

“Are you asleep? The Government has been overthrown and you are sleeping?” He sounded frantic.

Sumbeiywo, a major in the army at that time, barely had time to internalise whether this was a real conversation or a sick joke. “Government overthrown?  By whom?” “The army?”

Lazaro was in the army and knew there was no way his officers could be involved.

“I concluded what he was telling me was was rubbish.” Sumbeiywo was Maj. Jackson Mulinge’s personal assistant at Ulinzi House, Nairobi. His family lived in Nakuru and every weekend, he made effort to be with his wife Lornah and children.

Sumbeiywo could not figure out how the army could carry out a coup. For a start, he had been at the operations’ centre at Ulinzi House on Saturday July 31 and knew that there were two squadrons of the army and air force training that weekend in Lodwar and Western Kenya. He was also privy to top military intelligence information, thus he would know if something was cooking.

He was about to replace the receiver and go back to sleep when Elijah told him firmly to meet him at either Kabarak or State House Nakuru in half an hour. “When he told me that, I realised this was serious. I chose to go to State House.”

President Moi was spending the weekend at his Kabarak farm. Sumbeiywo knew that the first priority was to secure the President and his Kabarak home. He learnt that Nakuru Lanet army was with the Government and had not been infiltrated. “But I also knew that we needed to put a battalion together to safeguard the President.”

He changed clothes quickly, updated his wife about what was happening and then got into his white Peugeot 204 station-wagon and headed to State House.

Nakuru was quiet, the streets deserted with little activity on a Sunday morning. At 7am, he was in his brother’s State House office.  The two brothers had found themselves at different times in the military. Their dalliance with the army dates back to their late father, Sumbeiywo Limo, who joined the King African Rifles in 1922 and served until 1934. “He was smart, he avoided the World War I and II,” quips Sumbeiywo. Limo’s greatest desire in his advanced years was to have a son in the army.

“Elijah joined the army first but later he left for the police. My father was heartbroken, so to mend his heart I joined the army.” The brothers rose quickly through the ranks. Elijah rose through the police ranks to Deputy Commissioner of Police before retiring in 1996 and going into politics. He served as MP for Keiyo North in 1997. He died last October after a battle with cancer.

At State House, Sumbeiywo found Elijah working on three different phones trying to get information on the situation in Nairobi.

Sumbeiywo went to the then aide de camp (ADC) of the President, Maj. Peter Ikenye to confer with him on the situation. “I asked him who may have organised the coup? He told me, ‘this Air Force people are stupid’. They think they can take over the Government.”

A plan was hatched to drive to Kabarak with armed security people and secure Moi. “There was no point in leaving armed troops in State House when the President was in Kabarak.” Sumbeiywo collected five army men from State House and began the torturous drive to Kabarak.

With his hurriedly convened army of five loaded with weapons, Sumbeiywo drove through deserted and empty roads to Kabarak. “One man sat at the front, three in the middle and two in the boot of the car. My instructions to the men were simple, if anybody tries to stop us, clear.”

They arrived at Kabarak shortly before 9am and found the place quiet. “I found Mzee extremely calm. He was standing and very composed. He spoke in Kiswahili saying this wayward Air Force think they can take over the Government, but we shall deal with them.”

Sumbeiywo’s mind was racing fast trying to execute a plan. “I knew if there was a coup in progress, the only other base with the firepower to inflict maximum damage from the air was Nanyuki air base. Those fighter planes had massive weaponry.”

In addition, Sumbeiywo thought that if the Air Force in Nanyuki were supporting the coup, President Moi’s Kabarak home was essentially a target.

President’s attitude

His phone call to Department of Defence headquarters confirmed that Nanyuki Air Force had also joined the uprising and would be considered “hostile”. Sumbeiywo had to think quickly. He told retired President Moi that they must leave the house immediately but the President would hear none of it.

“Mzee told me, hii ni nyumba yangu, niende wapi? (This is my house, why should I leave?).” Moi’s attitude was simple, if the Air Force men had an issue, they should go to him. He was not running anywhere.

It took the intervention of former PC Hezekiah Oyugi, then Rift Valley Provincial Intelligence and Security Officer George Kimeto, Elijah, then Rift Valley Provincial Police Officer E. Mbijiwe and Sumbeiywo to convince Moi that he was not safe staying there. “It took the intervention of all of us to convince him to leave the house. Mzee finally agreed.”

A convoy of three vehicles with army men armed to the teeth drove into the bush from the residence. There was Sumbeiywo’s 204 Peugeot, Oyugi’s 505 saloon and Kimeto’s vehicle, which Sumbeiywo cannot recall the make. But he remembers that all the cars were coincidentally white in colour. Moi rode in Sumbeiywo’s car and he sat at the front.

The Head of State, accustomed to riding in a large motorcade in the presidential Mercedes Benz car complete with police outriders had been forced into the comfort of a small car. He sat calm, composed and totally unshaken by the unfolding events.

It was awfully quiet in the car as the rest of the nation held its breath. What was going through the President’s mind? Sumbeiywo shakes his head, “I don’t know.”

But he recalls: “I told Mzee as I drove that if Gen. Mohammed and Brig. Lenges were around, this thing will end soon.” Sumbeiywo knew Brig. Lenges was in Nanyuki and Gen. Mohammed was in Nairobi. The cars drove to a section of the farm, which had a boulevard of eucalyptus trees that could provide cover to the occupants against aerial attack. At this spot, the cars stopped as the team tried to figure out who was behind the coup. But more complex for the trio was the lack of communication with Nairobi. “We had radio that could only tune to local frequencies.” It was ironic that for ten hours, President Moi had no communication whatsoever with the rest of the country, especially Nairobi.

They waited for about an hour and then a collective decision was taken to drive the convoy deeper into the bush to Moi’s Solai farm in Subukia. On the way, at around 10am, the car radio announced that the army had sieged broadcasting house and that the Government was now back in power. The plan changed completely.

A decision was made to drive the President back to Kabarak. On the way, the convoy met by sheer coincidence with one of the squadrons that had been training in Western Kenya. Their vehicles were supposed to be equipped with radio equipment and the idea of using a radio relay was deliberated by the roadside.

“We wanted Mzee to address the nation using a system known as radio relay or RR,” says Sumbeiywo. This proposal was discussed with Ben Nganda, then a major in-charge of communications with the squadron. Was it possible for President to make an address by the roadside to the country? There was only one big problem, recalls Sumbeiywo:   “For military radio relay to work, you need two vehicle-mounted radios. One beams the signal, the second radio bounces the signal to its destination. Unfortunately the only other army vehicle in the convoy with radio had rolled at Timboroa. This idea was abandoned.”

Dusty outposts

At around 1pm, the convoy arrived back at Kabarak and Moi announced he wanted to go to Nairobi. The task to create the logistics to ensure the Head of State got back to Nairobi was laid at the doorstep of Gen. Joseph Musomba.

Musomba commanded the Second Kenyan Brigade and had a stellar record in the military having begun his service in 1965 when he was sent to Moyale after being commissioned as Lieutenant. In the dusty outposts of North Eastern Province, he had found himself in the middle of the Shifta War.

During the Ogaden War between Ethiopia and Somalia, in 1977, he was Kenya’s director of operations. Musomba had been tasked with developing a response if Somalia attacked Kenya during the war. On August 1, he was already working overtime directing operations to counter the coup plotters in Nairobi.

Musomba put together an army of more than 500 men in 30 vehicles to escort Moi back to Nairobi.

The armada of men composed of armoured vehicles and the presidential limousine, which Moi insisted he would ride in.

Impeccable sources, who were in the convoy at that time, reveal that the President’s ADC tried to persuade Moi first to fly to Nairobi, which was safer but Moi refused. He was getting to Nairobi by road to see the country. “Moi also insisted on riding in his official car. He was not going to sneak into Nairobi sandwiched by the military. The man was stubborn but also very brave in the circumstances. He was unshaken by the events of that day.”

Sumbeiywo says he returned his 204 vehicle to his house and informed his wife, Lornah, he was heading to Nairobi. He boarded a military land rover and joined the convoy to Nairobi. The convoy drove at about 30mph from Nakuru to Nairobi. “The road was deserted, there was no traffic. We had our fears about finding resistance along the road, it never happened.”

The convoy made up of soldiers and vehicles with headlights on snaked its way along the highway and it took three hours to get to Nairobi. At Rironi, a curious crowd gathered following the convoy. Moi recognised the growing crowd from his car and ordered the convoy to stop. He wanted to address the crowd.

It was the nightmarish scenario for any security agents detailing a President, who had just survived a foiled military coup.

Says a source who was in the convoy: “Moi’s ADC tried to dissuade him from opening the hatchet to address the crowd and instead keep driving straight to Nairobi. Moi refused and insisted he must speak.”

The President stepped up from his hatchet to the thunderous applause of the crowd. It was the first time he was addressing a crowd since the events of the night before.  By 4pm, the convoy drove into Nairobi. “I left the convoy to go to Ulinzi House, but before I left, Moi asked me to inform Gen. Mulinge that he wanted to see him,” says Sumbeiywo.

He recalls arriving at Ulinzi House to find the place a beehive of activity. At 5:45pm, President Moi addressed the nation from State House to assure that the Government was in control, the coup had been crushed and a mop up exercise to deal with the plotters had been initiated. He announced a dawn to dusk curfew in Nanyuki and Nairobi.

By Machua Koinange, The Standard

KNUT threatens to call another strike over contested July pay

Kenya: The education sector is headed for chaos for the second time this school term as the Kenya National Union of Teachers issued another strike notice following the government’s move to withhold teachers’ July salary.

Knut officials led by chairman Wilson Sossion (left) address the Press on the impending teachers’ strike over July pay in Nairobi, Wednesday. PHOTO: GOVEDI ASUTSA/STANDARD

Knut officials led by chairman Wilson Sossion (left) address the Press on the impending teachers’ strike over July pay in Nairobi, Wednesday. PHOTO: GOVEDI ASUTSA/STANDARD

Knut yesterday wrote to the Teachers Service Commission issuing a seven-day notice of the impending industrial action slated for August 7.

This will be only two days after the University Academic Staff Union will have called its members out of the lecture halls to demand Sh3.9 billion salary arrears from the Government.

Operations in all public universities will also be paralysed as the Kenya Universities Staff Union has also weighed in to demand payment according to the agreement.

But even with all this, Education Cabinet Secretary Jacob Kaimenyi and his PS Belio Kipsang have maintained the teachers will not be paid for ‘no work done’ (days lost during the July strike).

TSC secretary Gabriel Lengoiboni has also written toKnut explaining why their members will go without the July pay.

Knut chairman Wilson Sossion and secretary-general Mudzo Nzilli said they have summoned the union’s National Executive Council next week to advise on the way forward.

The two expressed disappointment at the government’s failure to honour the return-to-work formula and had instead resorted to punitive measures to victimise teachers. They also accused the Salaries and Remuneration Commission of meddling in the affairs of TSC by issuing orders and demanding implementation.

The aggressor

Knut also took a swipe at TSC for “stooping too low and accepting to be used by SRC” to advance the government’s agenda.

“We know who is saying the truth. We also know who is the aggressor. This is not a honest government,” said Sossion, adding that the State is cash-strapped and has resorted to “awkward and illegal” means to raise cash to finance some of its projects.

He claimed by denying teachers their July pay, the State intends to raise Sh13 billion. “They want to use Sh3.6 billion of this money to employ 10,000 new teachers. They also want to use Sh6 billion to settle commuter allowance as was agreed between the union and the State,” he claimed.

Sossion said their deal with the government was not Sh16.8 billion as reported because the TSC already uses Sh5.5 billion of the cash to pay commuter allowance.