Where are Billian, Caro? Kenyans ask - VIDEO - Daily Nation

Where are Billian Ojiwa and Caroline Mwatha? Kenyans ask police

Tuesday February 12 2019

By ELVIS ONDIEKI
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By STELLA CHERONO
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Police in Nairobi are investigating circumstances under which community mobiliser and politician Billian Okoth Ojiwa went missing without a trace on Sunday.

Mr Ojiwa, who is in his early 30s, is best known for the Ficha Uchi Initiative, a programme he founded that gives school uniforms to needy children.

NO PHONE

He is also the chairman of the youth congress of the Kenya African National Union (Kanu).

His wife Nerima Wako, the CEO of Siasa Place and a columnist with The EastAfrican, told the Nation that she was with him at her parent’s house on Sunday when he stepped out at around noon.

Mrs Ojiwa said he walked out without carrying most of his possessions.

“He didn’t have his phone, his car keys or his office keys. I thought he had gone to the shop. I haven’t seen him since then,” she said.

Mrs Ojiwa said she had filed a report at Kilimani Police Station on Monday and was told to return on Tuesday morning.

“He’s been missing since Sunday at noon; so, it’s been more than 24 hours without any contact whatsoever,” she said, noting that she will be more comfortable to share more details around the disappearance after talking with the officer handling the matter.

Mr Ojiwa’s disappearance was a trending topic on Twitter on Tuesday morning, with concerned Kenyans sharing the news of his disappearance through #FindBillianOjiwa.

MUSIC PROJECT

“I hope Billian is safe even as the search for #FindCarolineMwatha continues,” tweeted Phelix.

“Dear God, please protect him and watch over him. Please be with him and keep him from harm,” typed Ronoh.

Mr Ojiwa is most known in Mathare, a slum area that nurtured him after completing his high school education.

He told Nation in 2017 that he was orphaned at 14 and grew up in poverty, and his star started shining when he moved to Mathare to help his aunt run a restaurant.

It is in Mathare that he started the Billian Music Family, an initiative that helps children record and market their music.

He started the Ficha Uchi Initiative after a parent asked him to help buy uniform for her daughter in 2013.

“When I visited her daughter’s school, I realised that many other pupils there could not afford uniform. This was the inspiration behind the ‘Ficha Uchi’ campaign,” he said.

In the 2013 General Election, Mr Ojiwa was one of the nine aspirants gunning to be Mathare MP, a race that was finally won by ODM’s Steven Kariuki after a by-election in 2014.

Mr Ojiwa’s disappearance caused more concern among Kenyans because another mobiliser has been missing since Thursday.

CAROLINE

Ms Caroline Mwatha Othieng, who worked with the Dandora Community Justice Centre, took her 13-year-old daughter to Moi Forces Academy last Thursday and has not been seen since. Her phone went off.

The organisation’s coordinator Wilfred Olal told NTV on Monday that they did not know of any direct threats on Ms Mwatha's person but that the group had been at crosshairs with police over extrajudicial killings.

“Carol was a key monitor on human rights violations, especially police killings and police brutality cases,” Mr Olal said.

On Monday evening, human rights groups held a vigil in Ms Mwatha's honour as Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko offered a Sh300,000 reward for anyone with information on her whereabouts.

Mr Olal asked police to act with speed and find her. The case was reported at Buruburu Police Station.

“We have seen police employ all strategies to find other people and succeed. We hope they will do the same for Caroline,” Mr Olal said during the vigil at the centre.

HER WORK

A founder member and case worker at the centre, Ms Mwatha has been documenting, lobbying and calling for police professionalism, public accountability and an end to extrajudicial killings.

“At the moment, we cannot really say if her disappearance has anything to do with her work because she has never received or reported any threats as an individual. Anything could be behind the disappearance. We cannot blame anyone now,” Mr Olal said.

On Sunday, Amnesty International-Kenya called upon the Directorate of Criminal Investigations and police to thoroughly investigate the case, establish Ms Mwatha’s whereabouts and deliver her to her friends and family.

Amnesty boss Houghton Irungu said her disappearance might fall into a pattern of threats and harassment of citizens.