Tharaka Nithi Deputy Governor Eliud Mate Muriithi was Wednesday robbed of Sh3.5 million at gunpoint by the very man who is supposed to protect him.
In a baffling incident, Mate's bodyguard identified as Administration Police (AP) Constable Josphat Kibiegon grabbed a bag containing the cash as the leader disembarked from his car at his Meru home.
The police officer was attached to Marimanti South AP Camp.
At 10.10am Wednesday, Kibiegon disembarked as is his routine to open the door for Mate who was seated at the front and holding a rucksack bag containing Sh3.5 million.
“When he opened the door, he took the bag and the deputy governor instantly confronted him before the constable whisked his official pistol and pointed at his boss prompting him to flee into his house for safety,” Imenti North OCPD Sam Kosgey said.
Also fleeing from the scene was the Deputy Governor’s compound civilian security guard and the driver.
According to Kosgey, the bodyguard then calmly exited through the gate carrying the bag, leaving behind his shoes which had fallen off during the scuffle with the deputy governor.
The bodyguard has a residence in an adjacent compound where neighbours said he passed briefly, wore open shoes and boarded a motorcycle heading for nearby Makutano Township.
A report at the Imenti North Police Station in Meru shows that the Deputy Governor logged in a complaint 20 minutes after the incident.
He told the report office that the money was proceeds from a property he had sold in Kathwana and intended to inject into a construction that he is undertaking in Meru town.
According to Koskey, the Deputy Governor - one of Kenya's most educated politicians with a recently conferred doctorate – did not have a clue of how the bodyguard knew he was carrying money as he had transacted in a closed room in secrecy.
From Kathwana to the Meru residence where he lives with his family, a distance of more than 80 kilometres, Mate had the bag between his legs in the front passenger seat where he was seated.
Kibiegon, who is in his mid-20s, has been the only bodyguard assigned to the deputy governor for most of his term and is described by colleagues at Kathwana as a reserved well-mannered gentleman who had failed to pick the bully tactics adopted by most VIP bodyguards. He graduated from the Administration Police College, Embakasi in 2008 and lived alone.
A manhunt was immediately launched by police bosses and Flying Squad agents to apprehend the suspect. The OCPD said they were looking into the possibility that the bodyguard was hiding in Upper Imenti forest which is a stone throw from the residence. The boda boda rider who carried him was yet to be traced.
In August, the deputy county boss fell victim of gangsters who raided his home at Kituo Village in Tharaka Sub County.
The incident sparked a confrontation with security guards manning the homestead who thwarted their plans. Kibiegon was one of the witnesses in a case that was brought to Meru law courts.
Earlier in June, Mr Muriithi hit headlines after issuing a directive to county staff regarding how he should be addressed after being conferred with a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degree.
As per the directive, he had ordered that he immediately ceases to be called Eliud Mate Muriithi and be addressed as H.E Hon Dr. Eliud Mate Muriithi.