The arrest of a man claiming to have escaped from Nyeri Medium Prison has raised eyebrows after prison officials denied he was the escapee they were after.
Police and witness reports indicate the man was arrested in a miraa farm at Njeng’u a few kilometres outside Nyeri town. The man is said to have claimed he escaped from King’ong’o prison.
Mr John Mambo, the farm owner, said he found the man picking miraa and called the police. “The officer had his photo on the phone and even after being questioned he said he had escaped from prison,” said Mr Mambo.
The arrest came at a time prison wardens and police officers were in pursuit of a rape convict who escaped from custody last week. The escapee has been identified by prison officials as Geoffrey Macharia who was serving a 10-year sentence.
According to prison officials, the inmate escaped while on custodial duties in Nyeri town on Tuesday afternoon.
The man arrested on the farm was taken to Nyeri Central police station, but prison officials tasked with tracking him down denied knowing him.
A second unit, including the officer who was on duty at the time of the escape, were sent in to identify the man. They concluded the man in custody was not the inmate they were after but "just a lookalike”.
“He just resembles the inmate, but he is not the inmate we are looking for. The officers were quite convinced he is not the one,” said Mr Patrick Isaboke the officer in charge of the Nyeri Medium Prison.
Yesterday, police could not explain the whereabouts of the man who was arrested or his fate. Kieni West police boss Ahmed Ali, who is in charge of Mweiga - the nearest police station to the point of arrest - told the Nation that they had not made any such arrest and referred us to Nyeri police station.
At the Nyeri police station, police boss Paul Kuria also said he was not aware of the arrest. “I am away but I have not received any report of that kind. I will check in the records and get back to you,” he said.
At the prison, pressure has been mounting over the escape, which is the second one this month. Another prisoner escaped in a similar manner two weeks ago. The inmate is said to have slipped away while on duty outside the prison. He was however arrested near Karatina town.
Deputy regional prisons boss Stephen Kiplagat told the Nation that the officers on duty at the time of the escape were being investigated for possible collusion or laxity.
Prison officers have also been accused of applying excessive force in their hunt for the inmate after a Standard Two girl was injured in a door-to-door search for the escapee last Tuesday. The girl was injured on the cheek after allegedly being hit with a stick by an officer.