News 2008


Mungiki demand leader’s release

Daily Nation


06. March 2008

Thousands of Mungiki sect members swarmed city streets Wednesday, calling for the release of their leader, Maina Njenga from prison.

Members of the outlawed Mungiki sect pour on to the streets of Nairobi yesterday, demanding the release of their leader, Maina Njenga. Photos/CHRIS OJOW

The Mungiki youths marched through the city streets before the police dispersed them. They moved from one street to another for more than thirty minutes before police dispersed them.

They had earlier marched past the police headquarters at Vigilance House and on past Parliament buildings.

Business was disrupted in parts of the city centre when police lobbed tear gas canisters at the rowdy youths, causing the demonstrators and pedestrians to scamper for safety.

The demonstration started at 9.30am and was quickly quashed. The protesters left behind literature associated with the outlawed sect scattered in the city streets.

The demonstrators, most of them youths, displayed placards showing Njenga in handcuffs with prison guards by his side. They demanded that he be released unconditionally while shouting, “No Maina, no peace!”

Njenga was arrested at his home in Ngong in 2005 and later jailed for five years for being in possession of an illegal gun.

Wednesday’s procession started on Ladhies Road and moved to Tom Mboya Street, then Moi Avenue before entering the city centre.

Police said they had not realised that the demonstrators had trickled into the city. They only learnt of their presence when the procession started, they said.

Officers also said they did not arrest anybody as they dispersed the demonstrators.

According to the police, the demonstrators may have streamed into town one by one, probably using matatus before converging on Ladhies Road.

Detectives immediately started investigations to establish how the demonstration had been organised and where they had come from.

The protesters proceeded into Kimathi Street, Kenyatta Avenue, then Muindi Mbingu street.

Among the placards carried by the group were some that accused the Government of killing 4,500 youths. They were referring to the five-month anti-Mungiki operation launched in July last year.

The crackdown

In statements they dropped on the streets, they described the crackdown as genocide and demanded restitution.

A copy of the statement obtained by the Nation also demanded that former Internal Security minister John Michuki explain the whereabouts of “2,000 missing persons”, including Mr Kimani Ruo, whose case is pending in court.

The statement, however, claimed the outlawed outfit had changed its name from “Mungiki Movement” to “the Kenya National Youth Alliance”.

In the past, police have raided Mungiki hideouts in city slums as well as in Kitengela and Ngong and recovered documents bearing the logo and colours of the Kenya National Youth Alliance which claims to be a political party.

Police launched a crackdown against the sect members last year after the group was accused of being behind killings in parts of Central Province and Nairobi.

The Kenya National Commission on Human Rights later protested against the extra-judicial killings of suspects linked to the sect.