A cloud hang over election politics Friday after a candidate’s three children were brutally murdered by kidnappers on the day that a Baringo MCA’s body was recovered from a river.
The two incidents sent shock waves through Uasin Gishu and Baringo, two counties kilometres apart but drawn together by grief over mystery killings affecting families active in local General Election campaigns.
There was no indication that the attacks were politically-motivated but several politicians have called for thorough investigations.
In the first case, three children of a Kanu candidate for a county assembly seat were killed and dumped in River Nzoia, Trans Nzoia County, five days after being seized by kidnappers on their way to a nearby church.
Police Friday recovered the bodies of Clifford Nyambane (6), Taniy Nyamweya (5) and Glen Ongaki (3), whose father James Ratemo Nyambane is fighting for the Kapsoya ward seat in Eldoret.
They were pulled out of the raging waters of the Nzoia near Moi’s Bridge, 50 kilometres away from their home and taken to Kitale County Referral Hospital mortuary.
A distraught Mr Nyambane played down any possible link between his children’s killing and the fight for the Kapsoya seat, but politicians from his Kanu party asked for a thorough probe into the killings.
Their mother, Ebby Isaji, was being comforted by relatives as a sombre crowd milled around the family home.
Nyambane last saw the boys on Saturday as they set out for the Eldoville Seventh Day Adventist Church, 500 metres away. They asked him to join them but he told them he had a political function to attend
“My dear sons loved church so much. I told them I had a political meeting. I didn’t know it was the last I was talking to them,” said Nyambane, who is well known in Eldoret’s upmarket Kapsoya estate.
Joshua Madaga, a caretaker at Nyambane’s residence, recalled that the boys had bumped into their older cousin, 13-year-old Johnny, as they walked through the gate and they headed towards the SDA church together.
Madaga was shocked when the children’s mother later returned saying they were not in church and that she had looked for them without success.
“I asked Johnny whom he had left the kids with, and he told me that he met with a relative of the children, who told him to run into the church and he would follow with them,” said Madaga.
A paternal uncle of the children, Enoch Onsanse, was charged with abduction before the local Chief Magistrate on Wednesday. He said he had not seen the children on the fateful day.
He was remanded in police custody to help with investigations until May 23, 2017 when the matter will be mentioned.
Following their disappearance, a frantic search was mounted across Eldoret and nearby centres. Posters of the three children were pasted up in schools and public places.
Mr Nyambane said the fight for the Kapsoya seat could not be the reason for the killings but hoped police would establish the motive and the perpetrators.
“Those boys were the hope of my life,” he told Saturday Standard. “I still can’t comprehend what kind of man can do this.”
Kanu Secretary-General Nick Salat condemned the killings and called for a speedy investigation.
The Kanu party’s Rift Valley coordinator, Jonathan Bii, cautioned the public against speculation over the reason for the murders and the identity of the killers.
“We are aware that it is an election period. We should not make statements that will cause more harm to the family,” said Bii.
As police undertook the grim task of ferrying the children’s bodies to Kitale Hospital mortuary, another team of law-keepers more than 400 kilometres away were looking into the discovery of a ward representative’s body at Ol Donyo Sabuk in Kilimambogo.
Mr Thomas Minito, the ward MCA for Churo Amaya, in from Baringo County, who had been missing for five days, was found dead beneath a bridge, on the Athi River. His body was taken to Kangundo Nursing Home mortuary.
Mr Minito, who featured prominently in the recent invasions of ranches in Laikipia, was found under the bridge by a boda boda operator who alerted the police.
Police suspect that he was killed elsewhere and his body ferried to the site — the same river in which a human rights lawyer was dumped last year after being killed while in police custody.
Mr Minito’s body had a head injury apparently caused by a blunt object. The MCA went missing on Monday, according to family members. He was last seen at Kabarnet town on Sunday. Soon after his phone went off.
Four people were arrested Friday as police launched investigations into his killing.
In February, another MCA in Baringo and a parliamentary aspirant for Tiaty constituency were shot dead by masked gunmen in Marigat. Loyamorok Ward MCA Frederick Kibet Cheretei together with Simon Kitambaa popularly known as Pepe were shot dead while with five others at Alfa bar and restaurant in Marigat, near the junction to Kabarnet town.
Two masked men, one brandishing an AK47 and another with a panga, stormed one of the sheds where the victims were drinking and opened fire.
Tension has been high in Baringo County since Minito went missing.
Family members and relatives Friday gathered at Churi trading centre in Baringo while irate residents tried to block Churo-Loruk road demanding for answers from police.
The slain MCA was allegedly approached by two men while having lunch at a hotel in Kabarnet town on Monday. After he disappeared, a search in local police stations yielded no results.
After being arrested last month over the invasion of ranches in Laikipia County, Minito had been released on Sh1.5 million bond after he denied charges of arson and incitement.
David Lomantile, a neighbor, said Minito was a leader who was determined to bring change in Churo Amaya ward and entire East Pokot Sub County