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Puzzle of Sacco boss killed after receiving office calls

Saturday December 14 2019
James Njuguna Murigi

James Njuguna Murigi who is said to have died in a motorcycle on September 22, 2019. A post-mortem report, however, shows he was murdered. PHOTO | NDUNGU GACHANE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

By NDUNGU GACHANE
By ELVIS ONDIEKI

What is certain: James Njuguna Murigi, the deputy CEO of Mentor Sacco in Murang’a town, died tragically on Monday September 23. The 30-year-old actuarial scientist was yet to start a family.

What is unclear: Initial accounts indicated a motorcycle accident caused the injuries that claimed his life. But a postmortem showed he suffered multiple blunt force trauma that left him with a fractured skull, injuries to the right arm and shoulder, stomach and right leg.

INCONSISTENT

The circumstances: He had bought land worth Sh2.2 million in Kambirwa, Murang’a County, early this year. On Sunday September 22, he visited the plot as he usually did. He had also been called twice to the Mentor Sacco offices that Sunday, a non-working day, to attend to some matters.

His family reads malice, convinced the activities of that day were behind his death and that it was not a motorcycle accident but a murder.

In an October 9 complaint to the Murang’a County investigating officer, the family gave a recap of events to build its argument that this was not an ordinary accident.

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“This case was reported as a road accident but the circumstances and events surrounding this death do not appear consistent with a motorcycle accident as reported,” the family wrote.

They noted the person who initially reported the matter told the family that it was a hit-and-run accident; that Mr Njuguna was a passenger on a boda boda heading to Murang’a town from Makuyu and that he fell off when the bike hit potholes at a high speed at an area called “Choma Zone”.

SPED OFF

Informants told the family that the boda boda operator sped off and left Mr Njuguna lying at the scene.

One thing the family finds interesting is that, unlike most road accidents where people surround the scene, in this case there were no people. They also wonder why, if the impact of hitting the potholes was so severe, the motorcyclist managed to ride from the scene.

On Friday, the Sunday Nation spoke with Njuguna’s mother, Mary Watiri, who recounted the events of that day.

She said that on Sundays, Njuguna routinely woke up at his Murang’a town rental house, then headed to the PCEA church in Murang’a town to worship. He would then visit them at their rural home in Gakuyu village. He would usually leave at around 4pm and head to his Kambirwa farm to inspect his crops.

ALTERCATION

“That is what he used to do every Sunday, and on the material day, he visited me since I had just come from hospital where I had been admitted. He came with a kilo of meat, which we cooked and shared. As usual, at around 3pm he bade us goodbye to visit his shamba in Kambirwa to inspect his maize. I did not know I would never see my son alive again,” she said.

The family has since established that when he was heading to Kambirwa, he was called by his boss, the CEO of the sacco, to resolve an incident at his workplace.

On reaching there, Ms Watiri said, he found an altercation between the guards and some people who wanted to take a photo of the Mentor Sacco building.

“He made it there and the CCTV cameras on the Mentor Sacco Society building in Murang’a town captured him with other individuals at the scene,” reads the family’s complaint to the police.

The family believes he left the Sacco building and made it to his farm. A farm help has confirmed to them that he was there and watered some crops.

MASK KILLERS

While on the farm, a co-worker at Mentor Sacco called him to return to the office to solve some matter. When the co-worker called to enquire whether he had reached the office, another person received the call.

“The recipient advised Njuguna’s co-worker that he had been involved in an accident, and that someone should go check on him at Murang’a Hospital. This individual also stated that James appeared very drunk, but James was not a drunkard, thereby raising more questions,” the family’s complaint reads.

Njuguna reached Murang’a Hospital severely injured. His colleagues transferred him to Nairobi Hospital but he died before noon that Monday. The family claims the motorbike incident could be a well-choreographed move to mask the real killers.

CALLED TWICE

“My son had disclosed to us that there were work-related issues due to the construction of an 11-storey building. He kept telling us that some people were piling pressure on him over a deal in relation to the building, and then on the fateful day, the CEO called him twice to go and solve a problem related to what he has been complaining of,” Ms Watiri claimed.

But the Mentor Sacco CEO, Ms Joyce Ndegwa, dismissed the claims that Njuguna’s death was work-related as baseless.

She told the Sunday Nation that although it is not clear why the architect wanted to take photos, the deceased would have been the last person to deal with the architectural issues since he had not yet joined the company when the said architect was involved with the building.

“The architect abandoned the building at the third storey but the deceased was only three months old as my deputy. Again, we have never heard him complain about any issues,” she said. “I have nothing against the family.”

STATEMENTS

Ms Ndegwa described Njuguna as an industrious and visionary leader whose absence will forever be missed at the company. She called on the police to find the boda boda rider that allegedly crashed to conclusively deal with the matter.

“The police should move with speed and locate the rider that carried the deceased so that the family of the late and we in the sacco find peace. He was an essential asset in the company, having risen from the management staff, assistant accountant to accountant and then the deputy CEO. He had a degree in actuarial science and a bright future,” Ms Ndegwa said.

County Criminal Investigations Officer, Ms Juliana Muthini, told the Sunday Nation that investigations were at an advanced stage and that they had recorded statements from several people, among them the Mentor CEO.

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