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Goons on the loose in Nyeri as succession politics heat up

Tuesday August 20 2019

Nyeri chaos

Supporters of Nyeri MP Ngunjiri Wambugu disrupt a meeting attended by Agriculture CS Mwangi Kiunjuri in June 2019. Chaos and hooliganism is becoming synonymous with political rallies in Nyeri as security agencies remain complacent in the murky succession politics. PHOTO | GRACE GITAU | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

NICHOLAS KOMU
By NICHOLAS KOMU
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Chaos and hooliganism is becoming synonymous with political rallies in Nyeri as security agencies remain complacent in the murky succession politics.

For the third time now, rowdy youths have stormed and disrupted political meetings in Nyeri town as Jubilee Party factions Kieleweke and Tangatanga continue to fight over the 2022 politics.

They are brutal, loud and disruptive, with their only goal being to prematurely end any meeting of a politician they do not agree with.

MUNGIKI FEARS

It is from these political guns for hire that talks of fears of a resurgence of the outlawed Mungiki emerged.

And despite a stern warning to politicians by Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i earlier this month against using youths to cause chaos, in Nyeri the goons remain active.

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Those who are arrested by police are eventually released unconditionally despite senior security officials constantly vowing to stamp their authority and contain the rowdy youths.

SAME GROUP

A review of past meetings shows that the meetings have been disrupted by the same group of youths who appear to have both political and police backing.

It is no coincidence that on multiple occasions, they have been heard threatening their rivals saying that “they are the government”.

Usually, the youths are said to be paid to attend meetings and heckle and disrupt any political rally they do not agree with.

PAID

They mostly comprise political activists, casual labourers and boda boda riders and it is said they are paid between Sh500 and Sh2,000.

Ideally they will sit in meetings pretending to be residents following the proceedings only to cause chaos later.

This was the scenario on Friday when chaos erupted at a meeting organised by women parliamentarians under the Inua Mama group allied to the Tangatanga faction.

The meeting that was held at DEB Primary School in Nyeri Town came to a halt as the visiting leaders were caught up in the commotion.

Like in past meetings, police largely stood by and watched as some officers attempted to make arrests.

RELEASED

Those who were arrested would later be released without being charged following alleged political intervention.

Nyeri Town MP Ngunjiri Wambugu appears to be the common denominator in the chaos that broke out at the meeting even though he has constantly pleaded innocence.

Nevertheless, the rowdy youths are usually behind the Kieleweke pioneer’s gospel of stopping all forms of premature succession politics by all means possible.

STOP CAMPAIGNS

The Jubilee Party MP is on record vowing to stop any form of campaigns in his area before 2022, a statement the youth have constantly followed and used as an excuse to disrupt political meetings of leaders allied to Deputy President William Ruto.

“We as the people of Nyeri Town Constituency will not allow anybody to come to Nyeri and do premature campaigns. We have a right as Nyeri people to tell you when we do not like something you are doing and we will tell you to your face,” Mr Ngunjiri said in a meeting on Monday.

Now security agencies have found themselves at the crossroads as the political hooliganism continues to boil out of control.

EMPTY PROMISES

Security officials have on multiple times vowed to stump out hooliganisms during political meetings but so far nothing has been done.

On Tuesday Central Regional Commissioner Wilfred Nyagwanga said that police are dealing with the matter but could not explain why youths who were arrested over the weekend had been released without charge.

At the same time, he declined to explain if police officers had been coerced to release youths who were caught on camera causing chaos.

“From today we will not allow criminals to cause chaos regardless of their positions. We are going to deal with them firmly. Police have their own mechanisms of dealing with suspects which are allowed under the law,” Mr Nyagwanga said.

INTIMIDATION

Even as their bosses continue talking tough and giving rhetoric ultimatums against hooliganism, junior officers now claim that politicians are intimidating them against arresting the goons.

This is despite the fact that several of the youths have been identified and profiled as habitual hooligans.

Some officers have allegedly already been transferred for reportedly defying orders to release the guns for hire.

Queries over the claims of police officers being intimidated by politicians against making arrests remained unanswered by the regional commissioner.

Chaos is, however, expected to continue being witnessed in future meetings as the Nyeri Town MP insisted that premature politics will be halted through what he terms as non-violent means.

“It does not matter who you are. If you come and do premature politics in Nyeri, we will not be violent but we will exercise our right of expression and we will express ourselves in your presence,” Mr Wambugu said.