4 December 2011

Kenya: Jaramogi Aide 'Sacked for Telling the Truth'

A former bodyguard of Kenya's first vice president claims he was sacked from the police service more than four decades ago for failing to spy on his boss.

Solomon Nguthi Mulang'a told the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission sitting in Kitui that he was unlawfully forced out of police service in 1965 and threatened with dire consequences if he dared seek justice over his dismissal.

Mr Mulanga had been part of Mr Jaramogi Odinga Oginga's security detail for the three years he served as the country's first Vice President and his diligence saw him become a trusted aide.

He was recruited to the force in 1958 by the colonial government and posted to Muthaiga police station in Nairobi, but he was chosen soon after independence as security escort for the new VP.

He told the commission that he was forced to resign at 26 years by police commissioner Bernard Hinga after he failed to account for the movements and activities of Mr Oginga.

"I was very enthusiastic about my prestigious posting in VIP protection, and I worked all the three years as an escort aide without a single day off, not even an annual leave, but I was later kicked out like a dog," a bitter Mzee Mulang'a, now 72, told the commission.

His daily sentry duties included accompanying and providing round the clock security to Mr Oginga in all his official and private engagements.

He recalled with resentment how his troubles which have seen him live a miserable life, began when Mr Oginga fell out with the Mzee Jomo Kenyatta over government policy.

"I trace my troubles to two trips Jaramogi made to Uganda a few months before his resignation from the government, where he held discussions with Ugandan president Milton Obote," he said.

He told the TJRC hearing chaired by presiding commissioner Prof Tom Ojienda at Kitui Multi-Purpose Hall that he accompanied the VP during his two trips and nothing sinister was discussed by the two leaders.

Overthrow Kenyatta

"I was present as the two leaders held talks at the Rock Hotel in Jinja town. If there was anything improper I would not have been allowed at the meetings, but the government believed Jaramogi had sought Obote's help to overthrow President Kenyatta," he told the commission.

When Jaramogi resigned, Mr Mulang'a was redeployed to Muthaiga police station to continue his duties.

"On the morning of December 18, 1965, I was summoned by commissioner Hinga to his Vigilance House office. I was very tense as I couldn't understand what the top boss wanted to discuss with a junior constable like me," he explained.

Upon arrival, he said, Mr Hinga ordered him to give a detailed account of the movements and the subversive activities of the former VP especially his Jinja meetings with Obote.

"The police commissioner demanded explanations over subversive activities that never happened. He rejected my version of the story. Though I was terrified, my conscience could not allow me to give false testimony," he said.

"Mr Hinga, convinced that I was privy to Jaramogi's subversive secrets told me: 'You silly young Mkamba, I'll sack you because you've refused to cooperate with the government,'" he recalled.

"I was forced to draft and sign a resignation letter. My perceived closeness with Mr Oginga earned me summary dismissal without a penny as retirement benefits."

His certificate of discharge seen by the Nation reads the officer had resigned after serving the force for seven years, four months and 17 days, but Mr Mulang'a says the certificate was illegally issued to cover up his unlawful dismissal.

"And to ensure I never pursued any legal redress over my unlawful sacking, Mr Hinga further ordered me never to set foot in Nairobi for five years," he said.

With all his career doors shut, the dejected officer retreated to his Matinyani rural home to begin a miserable adult life where he stayed in hiding until 1971 fearing for his safety.

"I gave up on any hopes of ever getting justice, I couldn't have appealed as the Attorney General then was Charles Njonjo, a man known to have political differences with Jaramogi, the man I was accused of supporting," he said.

He now wants the government to compensate him for the wasted years of his life and pay him his wages until the time he would have retired.

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