Sunday, November 8, 2009

Raila to meet Mungiki leader Maina Njenga

John Maina Njenga (right), leader of the Mungiki Sect, talks to his lawyer Robert Asembo (left) inside the Jesus is Alive Ministries church in Kenya's capital Nairobi, October 23, 2009. REUTERS

Leader of the Mungiki sect Maina Njenga (right), talks to his lawyer Robert Asembo (left) at the the Jesus is Alive Ministries church in Kenya's capital Nairobi, October 23, 2009. Mr Njenga is set to meet the Prime Minister over alleged threats on his life. Photo/REUTERS 

By BILLY MUIRURI and EMEKA-MAYAKA GEKARA

Prime Minister Raila Odinga is to meet released Mungiki boss Maina Njenga in a few days over alleged threats on the sect leader’s life.

In an exclusive interview with the Nation over the weekend, Mr Odinga said it was disturbing that top leaders of the sect had become targets and nothing seemed to have been done to ensure their security even after some of them publicly raised concern for their lives.

And on Sunday, Bishop Margaret Wanjiru of the Jesus is Alive Ministries led a delegation to visit Mr Njenga at his Isinya home. Later, she was quoted on the KBC Web site saying that she had advised Mr Njenga to go into hiding.

At the weekend, Mr Odinga had said: “I will meet him (Mr Njenga). He is a Kenyan and I am a prime minister of all Kenyans. If a Kenyan comes crying that his life is in danger, I cannot ignore him especially when his close friend is killed after raising a similar concern.”

In reference to last Thursday’s killing of Mungiki spokesman Njuguna Gitau Njuguna, the PM said: “I find it untenable that a man would be killed in a busy city street that is under surveillance of CCTV and three days later no one has been arrested. It is worrying.”

Though Mr Odinga did not disclose the day he would meet Mr Njenga, a source familiar with the Prime Minister’s diary said it could be by the end of this week. “There is such a meeting. It will be in a few days from today (Saturday). We shall let you know the actual time of the meeting,” said the source who did not wish to be named.

Speaking at his Treasury office on Saturday, Mr Odinga said it was public knowledge that many youths had been killed in the country especially in Central Province in unclear circumstances and this trend could not be wished away. “It is true developments in the province point to a breakdown of law and order,” Mr Odinga said.

Mungiki, an illegal sect, has been responsible for high-profile slaughter, including the massacre of 29 villagers in Mathira in April. It runs extensive and brutal extortion rackets especially in the transport industry.

Its criminals also extort “taxes” from home owners and have terrorised villagers across Central Province and some slums in Nairobi. Police identify Mungiki as the biggest internal security threat facing the country.

Executions

The force has been accused of responding to the menace through illegal executions, allegations that were taken to the UN Human Rights Council by Prof Philip Alston. The confirmation that the PM could meet the Mungiki leader came only two days after Mr Njenga issued a statement saying that some people wanted to kill him.

A week ago, Mr Gitau visited Mr Njenga at his Kitengela home together with his lawyer Paul Muite where he is reported to have said that both he and Mr Njenga were targeted for elimination. Mr Njenga, who claims to have converted to Christianity, has also said that a highly placed source in the security system had warned him that certain people were saying he will be killed within a month of his release.

Mr Njenga, who has expressed interest to meet with the PM on several occasions in the past, is yet to record a statement with police. Mr Njenga was recently freed after the government withdrew charges relating to the Mathira massacre.

Mr Muite had claimed that Mr Njenga swore an affidavit in which he allegedly identified top politicians and other leaders who were secret members of the illegal sect.

Mr Odinga’s foray into “talking to the sect” started in April 17 last year when he was sworn in as Prime Minister. In his address, he extended an olive branch to the sect saying he would engage them in dialogue.

Found dead

At the time, Mr Njenga’s wife Virginia Nyakio and Mr Njoroge Wagacha, a Mungiki official, had been found dead four days earlier in a Gatundu forest, sparking violent protests by Mungiki members in various parts of the country in which more than 10 people were killed.

Two weeks later, two officials of the Kenya National Youth Alliance, Ndung’u Wagacha and Naftaly Irungu were shot dead in their car as they went to see Njenga at Naivasha prison. All of them are yet to be buried.

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