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Whistleblower gives chilling account of police killer squad

By Alex Kiprotich | Updated Sat, December 10th 2016 at 00:00 GMT +3
The photo of Jeremiah Mwaura. Mwaura was killed in a horrific gangland style. (PHOTO: KIPSANGJOSEPH/ STANDARD)

Jeremiah Mwaura was killed in a horrific gangland style. His brother, Joel Mwangi, recalls vividly how two men, their faces masked behind motorbike riders’ helmets, liberally pumped bullets into Mwaura on the morning of September 15, this year. They had just isolated him from his friends and colleagues at Cereals Grounds, in Industrial Area, Nakuru where he worked as a casual labourer.

“The men in helmets came where we were sitting. They wanted to know who among us was Jeremiah. As soon as we pointed him out to them, they whipped out pistols and pumped bullets into him, point blank.” said Mwangi.

Stephen Ndungu, who was also present, confirms this narrative. “There were two men. Their faces were concealed in motorcycle helmets. They disembarked from a car and inquired after Jeremiah Mwaura. Having confirmed he was the one, they went straight into action. They shot simultaneously. Then — quickly — they collected all the spent cartridges and left.”

*****

The cold-blooded end of Mwaura is not an isolated case. Police in Nakuru and other parts of the country have been luring to callous deaths individuals whom they suspect to be criminals. Using agents, they approach the person and take him away, only to kill and dump their bodies in some ungodly places. Sometimes they do the job on the spot and gambol away, as was Mwaura’s case.

In a shocking confession by a whistleblower, it has been established that senior police officers are presiding over extra-judicial killings in the region, with wanton disregard for the sanctity of human life.

In four months of investigation, The Standard on Saturday established that the killer squad turns individuals who live on the wrong side of the law into their agents. They then use them to entice those that they plan to kill. They instil fear in the would-be informers, telling them that they will be eliminated if they do not cooperate.

The whistleblower implicated the Officer Commanding (OCS) Nakuru Police Station, Bamfort Tsurwa, a former Officer in Charge of Crime (OC), and Paul Omollo (currently in Kimilili), as the masterminds. They work with five junior officers who do the actual dirty work.

In telephone conversations, as well as records that this writer accessed from the confessor, the two top police officers are identified by the code names of Daniel for Tsurwa and Joshua for Omollo. “The code names were given to me by the senior officers themselves, to hide their identity, just in case I should refer to them by name, should I happen to be in a place where their real names could ring a bell,” said the whistleblower.

When we reached him for comment, Tsurwa accused the victims of trying  to kill him. “I want us to talk as friends. I will not be surprised, and I am not offended, that my name has come up,” he said.

He deflected questions on whether he knew Tony, the whistleblower, only saying that people had fought him ever since he was posted to Nakuru.

“I have been fought in this station and I can say it is unfortunate that people want to hit me,” he said in a recorded conversation.

Omollo, on his part, did not want to discuss the issue. “I do not want to discuss this matter. I have no comment,” he said, before disconnecting the call.

*****

The officers waste no time, once the agent has delivered the profiled target. They kill the man swiftly. The methods include the bullet, strangulation and suffocation. The bodies are dumped in forests, on the roadside or in gutters. The killer squad will often send signals to the next of kin, telling them where to discover the body of their dead relative.

“After one is identified, they will call me and give me photos and where the target is likely to be found. My work is now to find and lure them into the police trap,” said Tony, who sought witness protection from IPOA. The Standard on Saturday linked Tony with IPOA, who have taken a statement from him.

Those lured into the dragnet may sometimes be held in police vehicles within police stations for several hours. Deep in the night, they would be taken to a secluded room at Kasarani Police Lines in Nakuru. From here, they would be ferried to their death spot.

“Nobody is booked into the Occurrence Book (OB). They will be left in police vehicles to avoid detection, or being booked in the OB,” said the man.

The whistleblower said in a recorded confession that since September last year, he has been given a list of people whom the police wanted him to lure to their deaths. In February this year, he lured Timothy Kutilo, 40, into his death trap. Omollo had summoned him to his office and told him that he wanted him to entice Kutilo and bring him to them, because he was a criminal. The Standard on Saturday cannot independently confirm whether Kutilo was a criminal.

“When I hesitated, he told me that I had two options. One was that I should cooperate. The other one was that I would not see my children again,” said Tony.

“Meanwhile, he gave me the contacts and displayed his photo. I accepted,” he said.

Tony embarked on the task of finding Kutilo and befriending him. After winning his trust, months later, he lied to him that he had something urgent to share with him. They agreed to meet at Milimani Apartments, Nakuru, on February 8.

“He came. I quickly signalled Omollo that I was with him. Omollo personally came on a motorbike to confirm,” he said. 

“After the motorcycle carrying Omollo had passed where I had parked mine, a RAV 4 car carrying three officers arrived within three minutes. They jumped out, brandishing guns, and ordered us to lie down, shouting that we
were criminals. The shouting was meant to reassure any witnesses that what they were seeing was a lawful police
operation,” said Tony. The two men were bundled into the car and taken to the Central Police Station.

Here, they were separated. Tony was let off the hook because he was only doing a Judas Iscariot assignment.
Timothy’s bullet riddled body was later found, on February 9, dumped in Koru area in Nyanza, more than 200
kilometres from Nakuru, where he had been arrested. According to his mother, Eveline Ayuma, the family only
came to know about the death on March 21. They received an anonymous message from a caller who only
identified himself as a police officer.

“Someone called my son’s wife, Cecilia, and told her that her husband’s body was in Russia, in reference to the
Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Referral Hospital in Kisumu,” said Ayuma. Tony was paid Sh5,000. This is the standard amount paid each time he delivers a target to the police.

*****
Among those whom Tony has ensnared and led to their death at the hands of the police were John Mulwa, Rasto, Mike, Ochieng and Mwaura. There was also another person, only identified as Salim. His remains have yet to be found, despite his having been picked up in August last year.

According to Mulwa’s younger brother, Boniface, he was captured at the Nakuru Law Courts on January 13, having come to attend court over a robbery case in which he had been accused alongside a man called John  Maina. Mulwa’s body was discovered in Kasambara Forest on January 20, seven days after his disappearance. It was taken to Gilgil Hospital Mortuary.

Mortuary sources said that the body had been dumped there by police officers, who had booked the dead as an “unidentified African male.” There was a rope around his neck, a clear indication that he had been strangled. According to Maina, who  was with Mulwa when he disappeared, they had left the law courts together. The courts are adjacent to the Central Police Station. Just as they closed in to the station, Mulwa received a call on his cellular phone. He stopped to listen to the call. Meanwhile, his friend walked on.

“I did not bother. I continued walking on, knowing that he would catch up with me in few moments. But I was shocked. When I looked behind after about five minutes, I could not see him,” said Maina.

Maina recalls that on trying to reach Mulwa on phone, it had been switched off. Mulwa’s lawyer, Gordon Ogolla, said they had just finished a session in court and Mulwa was heading to his office, where they needed to go through what transpired in the courtroom. “I told him to walk to my office for the review. He did not turn up. I was later shocked to learn that he had been picked up by plain-clothes officers. His body was found in the mortuary in Gilgil, a week later,” said Ogolla.

Mulwa was buried in Mwingi on January 29. The family’s efforts to get a report of the postmortem examination have been futile. The police officer who was present during the examination refused to cooperate with the family. For three months, The Standard on Sunday attempted to get the report but to no avail. This was in spite of visits to the police station and numerous failed appointments with the OCPD, Serah Koki.

*****
Back to Jeremiah Mwaura, he was buried at the Nakuru South Cemetery, four days after his brutal death. The interment followed sustained pressure by the police to have the body disposed off as quickly as possible.

In other cases, Rasto’s body was discovered at Lake View, in December 2015. There was also Achieng, whose
body was dumped at Soilo in March this year. And there is, of course, Salim whose body’s location remains a mystery.

While the Nakuru County Police Commander, Hassan Barua, said he is not aware of any unit that is sanctioned
to execute crime suspects, Tony revealed he was under pressure to lure four other people to their death.

They are only identified only as Mogaka, Meja, George and Masai. “I am only getting this from you,” Barua told us, “I assure you we will investigate the matter and deal with anyone mentioned. Let those who have information not fear us, but come forward. If they are not comfortable, they can report to our headquarters, or even to IPOA,” said Barua.
Sources say the hit squad of five is made up of police officers from the Railways Police Lines , Bondeni, Nakuru
Central Police Station and from the CID. This squad works very closely with prison warders in the county.



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