Traders recall moments just before kidnap of former MCA

Elgeyo Marakwet Senator Kipchumba Murkomen after viewing the body of Benson Kiptire at the Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital mortuary in Eldoret. [Kevin Tunoi, Standard]

Suspects linked to abduction and murder of former Kapyego MCA Benson Kiptire drove in two white Toyota Land Cruisers before picking him from his shop at Rock Centre in Uasin Gishu County, it has now emerged.

Kiptire’s body was later found in Kamatira Forest in West Pokot County on Saturday, a day after he was kidnapped.

Traders with businesses next to Kiptire’s shop said they grew suspicious of movements of four men who were untidily dressed outside their premises.

“One vehicle had come earlier at around 11am and left one man before the vehicle was driven towards Eldoret town. The man left behind went to Kiptire’s shop and bought a cigarette and a bottle of water,” said a trader who sought anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter.

Suspect’s movement

He said the man, for almost one hour, paced up and down the building while occasionally glancing at his phone.

“Before 12 O’clock, another vehicle, white, pulled over at the deceased’s shop and three other men alighted and joined the other one that had been left behind. Within a short time, one of them claimed they were police officers and whisked Kiptire into their vehicle,” narrated the trader.

He said the whole incident appeared to have been meticulously planned not to raise any suspicion, as the men even assisted Kiptire to close the shop before driving off. 

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At Kiptire’s home, tears flowed freely as family and relatives of the slain former MCA received news over his murder.

According to police, Kiptire, who was also Elgeyo Marakwet Senator Kipchumba Murkomen’s county liaison officer, could have been strangled and stabbed on the head before his body was dumped at the forest, more than 130km away from the place he was abducted.

Kiptire’s kin, together with Elgeyo Marakwet leaders, have condemned the killing and sought answers from the State, and arrest of the killers.

Chris Kiptire, the slain businessman’s younger brother, said the family was shocked by the death. “We are in grief after learning our brother was strangled to death. It seems the killers tied a string around his neck before he was murdered,” he said at Kapenguria hospital mortuary before the body was taken to Eldoret.

He urged the Government to investigate and arrest the abductors and killers of Kiptire, saying the former MCA did not deserve that kind of death. Kiptire’s wife Purity was overcome and could not talk.

Kiptire’s body was found by passerby near the forest that spreads along the Kapenguria-Lodwar highway on Saturday evening.

West Pokot County Police Commander Jackson Tumwet said Kiptire was likely murdered elsewhere and his body later dumped near Kamatira Forest.

“The relatives have recorded a statement with us and we have allowed them to take the body to Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital Eldoret mortuary. We will give them escort so that postmortem examination can be conducted to establish the cause of death,” said the officer.

He said his officers were coordinating with others in Uasin Gishu County in hunting the killers.

Hit squad

Elgeyo Marakwet leaders, including Mr Murkomen, Governor Alex Tolgos and his deputy Wesley Rotich, asked the Government to come clean on the murder incident, saying there was high possibility Kiptire was killed by a hit squad.

“As leadership from Elgeyo Marakwet, we are really saddened by his death. Kiptire was a pastor and in his entire life has never recorded a statement in a police station for having committed any crime,” said Mr Tolgos.

“We are giving 24 hours to the DCI and Inspector General of Police to tell us who were involved,” said Murkomen, adding: “The killers of Kiptire should be brought to book. He should not be another statistic in the rising number of assassinations”. 

Pokot South MP David Pkosing condemned the killing and urged police officers to arrest the killers.

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Elgeyo Marakwet Senator Kipchumba MurkomenMoi Teaching and Referral Hospital