The Star (Nairobi)

Kenya: Njenga, Muite Warn of Extrajudicial Killings

Organisers of the Limuru 2B meeting yesterday accused unnamed powerful individuals in government of branding the group as Mungiki so as to fight it politically.

The leaders, who included former Mungiki leader Maina Njenga, senior counsel Paul Muite, Archbishop David Gitari and Ngunjiri Wambugu of Change Associates Trust also claimed to be privy to intelligence information that indicated the security agencies were planning to mount a fresh round of extra judicial killings aimed at eliminating suspected members and leaders of the group.

They cited public statements issued in recent weeks by Police Commissioner Mathew Iteere and police spokesman Erick Kiraithe claiming that the Mungiki was regrouping as an indication of the plan to revive extrajudicial killings of suspected sect members. They said at least 10,000 youth from Central Kenya were killed in a span of five years during which the police and other security agents carried out a systematic operation to get rid of the group.

Muite said the organizers of the meeting had been questioned as to why they were working with Maina Njenga. The meeting was to launch the Kenya Nationalists Forum which is a network of opinion leaders from Mount Kenya region and other parts of the country whose aim is to encourage Kenyans be nationalists and not tribalists during the next elections. "There are plans to start the extra judicial killings, and since they have sent a warning to us let me also warn them that the time for impunity is over. They should realize that nobody was born in any special way and we are all equal. They can no longer continue criminalizing poor youth by branding them Mungiki," he said.

Njenga revealed the group had since 1987 maintained a list of the names of all government officials and politicians who took oaths to join the Mungiki sect as well as the dates when they took these oaths. He urged those targeting the group's members not to "court trouble." "I know everybody and I have a register on when one joined, when he took oath. I know even when it was given. If you were not given (the oath) then something passed you," he told the close to 4,000 people mainly young people who turned up for the meeting at Kwambira grounds in Limuru town.

Unlike last month's conference which was violently dispersed by police who used live bullets and teargas, yesterday's five-hour meeting was peaceful. There was however a heavy police presence with armed riot policemen following the proceedings from a distance. Njenga said the Mungiki sect was no more and alleged that some people in government and political circles wanted to create the impression that the group was still active so its perceived leaders could be targeted for elimination. "People are saying some people want to re-launch, can someone like Kiraithe even tell what or who is a Mungiki? We are saying today there is no Mungiki, if there is one who has not changed, go and tell him to change," Njenga said and announced he would launch a new forum for the youth.

Ngunjiri dismissed claims that the meeting was a Mungiki affair. "When young people from Central meet, why do the authorities always conclude they are Mungiki? What we know is that Mungiki is an illegal group and if police know who the Mungiki are, they should arrest them," he said. He said the group was being branded as Mungiki as a ploy to fight it and its leaders politically.

Former Kibwezi MP Kalembe Ndile claimed that though ordinary Kenyans fought for the country's independence, the "home guards "were granted the leadership and they have been perpetrating new-colonialism up today. Makadara MP Mike Sonko called on youth to avoid violence. He said he was once a criminal and now he is in Parliament. "If God can forgive why can't the government forgive," he said.

Former Kenya National Commission on Human Rights commissioner Hassan Omar said the officials who ordered the extra judicial killings of youth in Central Kenya and Nairobi were known and warned that a time will come when they will be prosecuted for their crimes. He challenged youth to shun tribalism. The daughter of Field Marshall Dedan Kimathi, Evelyn Kimathi, said the sons and daughters of freedom fighters have been ignored since independence.

Chairman of the NGOs Council Ken Wafula said individuals facing charged at the ICC and those mentioned in various commissions of inquiry reports should be barred from contesting in the elections. On his part, Gitari criticized Gema leaders who organized Limuru I meeting held in March which endorsed Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta as Central Kenya's preferred presidential candidate.

He said it was unconstitutional for a few leaders to convene a rally and use the forum to endorse someone for the presidency. He added that voters should be given a chance to participate in the nomination process. He challenged Kenyans to approach the next elections as nationalists. He said some leaders seeking the presidency had already retreated to tribal and regional cocoons. He called on Kenyans to elect persons without a history of corruption or nepotism.

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