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Inquest: Gakuru lived in fear as allies turned against him

Monday November 4 2019

JOSEPH WANGUI
By JOSEPH WANGUI
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Former Nyeri Governor Wahome Gakuru was paranoid about his safety and had stopped taking the office tea or food at established hotels a week before he was killed in a road crash, an inquest has heard.

The public inquest led by Nyeri Chief Magistrate Wendy Kagendo Monday heard that Dr Gakuru also looked disturbed as he had fallen out with his key political campaigners and financiers.

Mr Simon Waruru Ndegwa, a cousin of the former governor, testified that he only took food at random from street kiosks or at his residence in Ring Road estate where he had a personal chef.

LIVING IN FEAR

“He had told me there were people out to finish him and he was living in fear. He told me he preferred street kiosks over the established hotels because the kiosks would rarely conspire with anybody as compared to the big hotels,” Mr Ndegwa told the inquest.

Even when having guests at his office, Dr Gakuru pretended to be taking the tea but he would not sip anything as he no longer “trusted anybody”.

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When asked by Senior Assistant Director of Public Prosecutions Peter Mailanyi the source of the distress, the witness said the former county boss expressed fears after his former allies turned against him.

“He listened to an audio clip in which his former allies led by his campaign financier Kinyua Kimuri were recorded in Mathira complaining about the formation of the county government and they threatened to bring him down. They had said they would mobilise people from across the county to bring Gakuru down,” said the witness.

AUDIO CLIP

The inquest heard that the governor played the audio clip at his residence in the presence of Mr Ndegwa, Magutu Ward Representative Pauline Wanjira and CECs Muthui Kariuki and Wanjohi Kinyua.

Mr Kimuri wanted to be appointed as the political advisor but Dr Gakuru appointed him as the County Executive Committee member for Water.

“In the audio clip, Mr Kimuri was heard complaining that he had given resources [for Dr Gakuru’s campaigns] but was not getting the equivalent of his contribution,” stated Mr Ndegwa.

The sound clip was forwarded to a police detective named Mr Nyuguto attached to the Directorate of Criminal Investigations’ (DCI) homicide department in Nairobi for further investigations and action.

'ASSASSINATED'

On several occasions Mr Nyuguto told Mr Ndegwa that investigations showed the governor "was assassinated and it was made to look like a normal road crash".

The reason for the alleged assassination, the inquest heard, was that Dr Gakuru appeared disruptive to political formations of Mt Kenya.

But the State prosecutor said he was not handed the audio clip by the detective, with Mr Ndegwa saying some officers at the DCI were hell-bent on sabotaging the investigations from the beginning as they were frustrating Dr Gakuru’s relatives who enquired on the progress.

“The DCI officers led by Mr Nyuguto became elusive and evasive. The investigations were poorly done and sabotaged by the officers,” Mr Ndegwa stated.

SPECIAL AUDIT

Another reason given as to why the governor was paranoid was a special audit of financial accounts of the previous regime headed by Governor Samuel Wamathai.

Mr Ndegwa told the inquest that there were interested parties who were opposed to the audit on embezzlement of public funds, fraud and mismanagement of the public resources.

The fear was so deep that Dr Gakuru did not trust a driver assigned to him, Mr Samuel Kinyanjui, with the witness saying he referred to him as “the mortuary driver”.

“There was a time he found two ladies in a kitchen at his residence and he told me they could put selenide in his food and cause his death through a heart attack,” said Mr Ndegwa.

POLICE IMPOSTER

The inquest also head that the governor’s security was head by an imposter named Josphat Mwangi Maina alias Baba Maina who also doubled as his personal assistant.

The imposter was so powerful and well-connected that he used to summon the county police bosses and gave them instructions on the enhancement of the governor’s security.

“Baba Maina had told us he was the head of flying squad in Machakos. He had contacts of senior officers. He had been seconded to the governor by the DCI boss Ndegwa Muhoro,” testified the witness.

FRUSTRATED

The witness added that the fake police officer also frustrated Dr Gakuru’s efforts of hiring a private officer named Paul Mario from Tharaka-Nithi so as to spy on his security.

The inquest was adjourned to January 27 and 28, 2020 when the State will produce five more witnesses.

So far 19 witnesses have testified before the inquest that seeks to find out the circumstances that caused Dr Gakuru’s death on the morning of November 7, 2017 at Makenji along the Kenol-Nairobi highway.

The governor, who had spent only 77 days in office, was in his Mercedes E250 car heading to Nairobi for radio and television talk shows when tragedy struck.

The vehicle had four occupants at the time of the crash — the governor, his personal assistant Albert Gakuru, his body guard Ahmed Abdi and the driver Samuel Kinyanjui.