Suspected Mungiki sect members remanded

Twenty-three suspected members of the outlawed Mungiki sect will remain in custody for five days for police to complete investigations.

The suspects arraigned before the Makadara Law Courts Thursday included nine women, two of them who appeared carrying babies.  They were arrested as they held a meeting in a house in Kayole at 2am, while chanting in coded language.

The meeting was reportedly chaired by their lead pastor Premuis Irungu Muthoni and secretary Patricia Hadija Wangari.

Other members included Anthony Kungu, Michael Karannja, Mutunga Kingou, Peter Maina, Jacob Mungai, Bonface Muthawa, Dickson Chege, David Kamande, Peter Gatimu, Anthony Ndegi, Peter Kinyua, Simon Kimondu, Moses Kinuthia, Margaret Kendi, Jane Wacera, Wanjiku Kamau, Grace Wanjiru, Grace Mbate, Lucy Kibugi, Maryanne Njoki and Esther Njoki.

The clean-shaven men and the women aged between 25 and 60 were dressed in well-pressed suits, save for two elderly women in yellow and blue dresses.

Kayole Police Station investigating officer Thomas Ouma said he needed seven days to conduct investigations.

Despite the suspects saying they belonged to New Jerusalem Fellowship, police said the time of their meeting coincided with that of the outlawed sect. Police intend to probe the suspects' banks accounts.

The suspects are said to have been holding their meetings every Wednesday at 2am and dispersing at 4am, which raised suspicion and neighbours alerted police.

Ouma told the court releasing them could jeopardise their lives, with news having spread that they belong to a criminal group.

But the suspects' lawyer challenged the application, saying police had no watertight evidence that the suspects belonged to any outlawed sect known to have been extorting money from matatus within the city.