Inside terror machine that stunned Ruto men in Kibra

Youth from rival camps clash over voter bribery allegations at the DC ground polling center during Kibra by-elections last week. Inset: A man is led away by police. [Edward Kiplimo, Standard]

The Orange Democratic Movement is on the spot over its links to a team that terrorised individuals suspected of voter bribery in the Kibra by-election last week.

The rowdy group of youth unleashed fear by harassing, intimidating and beating up political opponents suspected of bribing voters at polling stations.

Some MPs were also attacked by the group. Kimilili MP Didmus Barasa and former Kakamega Senator Boni Khalwale were some of the victims of the group that claimed to be protecting ODM votes from manipulation.

Dagoretti South MP Simba Arati was captured in a video recorded at one of the polling stations asking a terrified Mr Barasa if he wanted to “run again”. Barasa had been attacked and chased from Mashimoni Polling Centre alongside his Kapsaret counterpart Oscar Sudi.

Barasa is heard in the clip pleading with Mr Arati, and telling him that “we are colleagues; we are friends” before the youth descended on him.

Further beatings

Arati has, however, denied unleashing the group on his colleague, saying he is the one who protected the Kimilili MP from further beatings.

At Old Kibera Primary School, an unidentified man was descended on by the group after he declined to identify himself on the day of the by-election last Thursday.

The rowdy youth claimed that they had spotted him at three other polling centres, and demanded he identifies himself. The swelling group of young people soon landed on him with kicks and blows.

The beating went on for close to three minutes before the police at the centre rescued him and drove him away.

At Ayany Primary School, a Jubilee agent lost his phone after he was beaten up by the youth before officers at the polling station intervened.

And at DC grounds, another group spotted two men and claimed they had been sent to bribe voters. The two were roughed up before they ran into a polling station for police protection.

At the same centre, Jubilee Party candidate McDonald Mariga was chased away by the same group when he visited to monitor the exercise. One of the youths shouted at Mr Mariga to “now leave”, before the others joined in.

The police were forced to shoot in the air as the group charged towards the ex-footballer, who dashed into his car and fled the scene.

The Jubilee candidate was also confronted at Ayany Primary School in the evening by rowdy youths who stoned his car. The police had to shoot in the air, again, to save Mariga.

In yet another polling station, the gang engaged Dr Khalwale in a stone-throwing battle. At one point, he found himself cornered and the visibly-shaken Khalwale was forced to drop the stones he was carrying. The police later ordered him to leave the area to avoid provoking the youths further.

Over the weekend, Deputy President William Ruto demanded that ODM leader Raila Odinga apologise for the chaos created by the group, which he described as a militia.

“As Kenyans, we demand that Tinga, his party unconditionally, unequivocally and publicly renounce the culture of violence, chaos, terror and gangsterism that is their signature modus operandi as witnessed in Kibra, and unreservedly apologise to victims past and present for the hurt and loss,” said the DP.

Court charges

But ODM has dismissed claims it deployed militia to intimidate those who had turned up to cast their votes in the by-election, and said it did not owe anybody an apology.

ODM Chairman John Mbadi said it was ironic that Ruto was demanding an apology when he has not condemned the chaos in Ganda Ward, Kilifi County, where one person was shot dead on the eve of the by-election.

Malindi MP Aisha Jumwa, a close Ruto ally, was linked to the chaos and is facing court charges.

Mr Mbadi maintained there was no violence, and that ODM supporters were only protecting the party’s candidate Imran Okoth, who won the by-election.

The ODM chair, who was speaking at a funds drive in Busia County yesterday, said the party would use its die-hard supporters in the future to protect votes in elections or referendum.

“After losing the seat, they said their percentage had gone up, but that did not sell. They then shifted to the imaginary narrative that there was violence in the Kibra mini-polls,” said Mbadi.

“Only those who were caught on camera were violent. Us we carried brains to Kibra and remained peaceful to the end.”

MPs Otiende Amollo (Rarieda), Christine Ombaka (Siaya), Walter Owino (Awendo) and Florence Mutua (Busia) echoed his sentiments. Mr Amollo said Kibra residents exercised citizens’ arrests by confronting and arresting those who engaged in voter bribery.

And in another statement signed by ODM Director of Elections Junet Mohammed, the party accused the Deputy President of being behind the chaos in Ganda and Kibra.

“In both elections, Deputy President William Ruto, who is leading a splinter group in Jubilee, built a trap against himself, vowing to use the polls to teach a lesson to ODM and its leader, Raila Odinga,” said Mr Mohammed.

He added that Khalwale was photographed armed with stones and trying to cause mayhem.