The whereabouts of an aspirant vying for the Kabete parliamentary seat remained unknown Saturday night, even as his disappearance caused panic among his relatives and supporters.
His supporters barricaded the Nairobi-Nakuru highway as riot police tear-gassed and engaged them in running battles, disrupting transport along the busy highway at Uthiru and later in Wangige.
The youthful candidate, Charles Chege Gitau, disappeared a few days to the Jubilee Party nominations.
Fears were heightened following the discovery of his bullet-riddled vehicle, with the rear screen smashed, near Rungiri Dam in Kabete Saturday at dawn – suggestively the same day he was to launch his campaigns for the party primaries.
Two bullet holes
Two bullet holes were visible on the left rear door of the vehicle, indicating the person who shot at him could have been aiming at the back-left seat, where many VIPs sit.
However, none of the two bullet holes penetrated the vehicle, with police now ruling out possibility that the aspirant could have been assassinated – at least not at the point where the vehicle was found.
Chege, 32, popularly known as Chege Fresh, is reported to have gone missing after he had been dropped by his driver James Mwangi at Kikuyu town, with the aspirant taking over the wheels of his white Toyota Prado and releasing the driver to go home.
Mwangi was among those who recorded statement with the police Saturday, as the search for Gitau was intensified beyond Kiambu County.
“He had his last meeting at around 11.30pm at Kahuho centre and I dropped him at Kikuyu town at around 12.04am, where I took a taxi and headed home,” recounted Mwangi.
The politician was to launch his campaign manifesto at Kanjeru Stadium.
Former Kabete MP George Muchai was killed in a mysterious execution in Nairobi, with the killers still unknown. The voters were forced to return to the ballot for a by-election in which Ferdinand Waititu was elected.
And with memories of Muchai’s execution still rife, panic spread throughout Uthiru, on the outskirts of Nairobi, with the area youth staging protests on Gitaru-Wangige road.
Family and supporters reported the disappearance at King’eero Police Station and called for speedy investigations, while appealing to anyone behind the probable kidnapping of the politician to set him free so that he can re-unite with his family.
Speaking to Sunday Standard on behalf of his family, Chege’s elder sister Grace Gitau said they suspected that the motive was political. The family pleaded with the police to intensify the search.
“This is an obvious political scheme meant to derail his campaign progress. It is particularly suspicious that he goes missing on the very day he was supposed to launch his campaign manifesto for the people of Kabete,” said Grace.
Kiambu County Police Commander Adiel Nyange said initial indications were that the politician had not been caught by the bullets that were aimed at his vehicle.
Speaking to anxious members of Chege’s family, friends and supporters at King’eero Police Station, Nyange said it was highly unlikely that the politician had been assassinated.
“When you look at the vehicle he was traveling in, there are two bullet holes at the handle of the back-left door. The holes did not penetrate to the inside, meaning the bullets did not go through,” he said.
Also recovered in the car was the car key and his two phones. Nothing had been taken from the car, according to the police, ruling out the possibility of theft.
“Our responsibility now is to ensure that we find him. I have already asked for reinforcement from Nairobi, and we have several reserve police officers on the ground doing investigations,” said the police commandant.
The aspirant is missing at a time his wife is expecting their first child, the very reason she could not accompany his father, mother and three of his siblings to the police station.
According to Kevin Mambo, a close friend to the aspirant, Gitau is a popular candidate and a front-runner to clinch the Jubilee ticket.
“He has taken over 100 youth, both men and women, to driving schools. These are people who are now independent, working as drivers for the many public service vehicles in the county and beyond,” said Mambo.
He said they had shelved all the plans for the campaign launch even as they awaited the outcome of the investigations.