Like a scene from a thriller movie, it is a gripping story of conspiracy and false pretences coupled with chilling details of a well-executed murder.
The horrifying details of the killing of lawyer Willie Kimani and his two associates were laid bare in court in a confession that recounted how the three were handcuffed inside a car boot for three hours, as police officers discussed their execution.
According to the confession by a police informer, who says he was present at the scene of the June 23, 2016 killings of Kimani, his client Josephat Mwenda and taxi driver Joseph Muiruri, the three victims had been driven at 7pm to their deaths in a thicket in Mlolongo, Nairobi, in a Nissan Wingroad belonging to a disgruntled police officer.
Peter Ngugi, a hawker, who doubled up as a police informer, detailed how the plot to kill them was hatched, how they were seized and later strangled in the killing field, one after the other, in the confession which was produced before High Court judge Jessie Lesiit by police inspector Geoffrey Kinyua.
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Ngugi said three police officers - Leliman, Leonard Mwangi and a sergeant Kamenju - went to the murder scene on Mombasa Road at around 7pm from Syokimau Police Post, where they had locked up the three earlier in the day.
In the killing field, the four agonised on whether to kill their victims or just release them. According to Ngugi, he and Mwangi were against killing the three. They argued that the group had blundered by first booking them at Syokimau Police Station. But Leliman and Kamenju, Ngugi claimed, insisted on closing their month-long plot by killing them.
“In the bush, we disagreed on how to execute the victims. Sergeant Mwangi and I were of the view that we had already exposed ourselves the moment the victims were placed in custody and the best thing was to release them. Sergeant Leliman insisted they must be killed. We debated for three hours,” Ngugi’s confession read.
Mwenda, the court heard, was the first to be eliminated at 10pm. Ngugi’s task was to guard the three, hand them to Mwangi who would in turn lead them to the killing spot where Leliman and Kamenju were waiting with a rope and a polythene bag. Leliman would place the bodies in the sack and into the boot.
He said in the statement that “the short man” was strangled to death and his body put in a sack then dumped in a boot of an NZE car that belonged to Kamenju.
The second person was killed at 11pm at the same spot where Mwenda was executed. Since he was tall, two sacks were put together - one from his feet and the other from his head. They were tied in the middle with a rope. He was, however, placed in Leliman’s vehicle.
The last person was also strangled to death and placed inside a sack before being placed inside Leliman’s Wingroad. Then, Mwenda’s body was removed from the NZE and placed in the same car. They then drove to Oldonyo Sabuk, where they dumped the bodies in a river.
However, those on trial for the murders are Ngugi as well as police officers Leliman, Mwangi, Stephen Cheburet and Sylvia Wanjiku.
According to the statement, the plot was to eliminate Mwenda, a boda boda rider, as he had previously been shot by Leliman, an Administration Police officer, who was angry that he (Mwenda) was pursuing the case with the Independent Police Oversight Authority.
Ngugi and Leliman were not known to each other. Ngugi was a friend to Mlolongo OCS named as Stephen Lelei, who he knew from Kabete Police Station.
According to Ngugi, he was previously working as a boda boda operator at Muhuri Road at Dagoretti in Nairobi.
Sometime in 2011, he said, Lelei accused him of ferrying thugs with his bike. What followed was harassment by Lelei’s juniors, forcing him to seek their boss out. This was the start of a friendship with Lelei and even when he was transferred to Busia, they kept in touch.
Fast forward to 2016, the two reconnected, this time at Mlolongo. Lelei invited Ngugi to his new station and introduced him to a three civilian clothed police team known in police circles as spiv. This is how he came to know Leliman.
One month to the criminal case, in May 2016, Leliman approached Ngugi with an issue that troubled him. He told Ngugi he had shot a boda boda thug, who now wanted him sacked and jailed. He requested Ngugi to sleep over the matter.
They did not talk until the last week of May when Leliman called again and this time requested that they meet at Connection’s Bar at Mlolongo. He explained his story, adding that Mwenda was being assisted by IPOA and that the criminal case would be on June 23, 2016.
They agreed to meet again on June 22, 2016 at Mlolongo police canteen. Leliman tasked Ngugi to trail Mwenda’s movements from the court the following day, and gave him a new mobile phone, which they would communicate with.
He waited for the court session to end. At around 11am, Kimani and Mwenda joined Muiruri in a waiting car. Ngugi immediately alerted Leliman, who waylaid them.