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In cold blood: Why Embakasi land barons get murdered

 Nairobi’s ODM youth leader Stephen Mukabana’s death may be linked to the perennial land disputes in Embakasi

There are claims that the recent murder of Nairobi’s ODM youth leader, Stephen David Odongo Mukabana, may be linked to the perennial land disputes in Embakasi, where other perceived land barons have fallen in almost similar style.

Mukabana, who had political ambitions, joins the list of prominent individuals from the area whose unsolved killings have been linked to land. They include Jared Achok, Onesmus Mutinda Katunge, Simon Rayboy Mwangi, John Maina Kaibere and Stephen Mugo Mutothori.

Like those gone before him, Mukabana aka Dosh, had confided in a few trusted friends and relatives that his life was in danger. In fact, on the fateful day on April 12, Mukabana had told a friend that he feared for his life.

“We met at a restaurant in Utawala at around midday. He looked unsettled, not sure of his safety. I was shocked when I received news at night that he was no more... they had killed him,” said the man.

Mukabana was ambushed at the gate of his Upper Chokaa, Hurlingham estate (not the upmarket Hurlingam on Argwings Kodhek) home at around 9.45pm. The killers appeared to have been lying in wait at the seemingly secure Alpha Court, which has entry and exit barriers. Upper Chokaa is an upcoming neighbourhood for the middle class.

As usual, Mukabana hooted thrice at the gate to announce his arrival to the family. But this time round, that signal turned tragic. A female relative who had gone to open the gate was met by four gun-toting men. She was led back into the house, which the gang ransacked while demanding money from his wife Mary Nguono. She had only Sh500, which they grabbed and stormed out with two of her mobile phones.

Edwin, the younger brother to the slain businessman-cum-politician, says some members of the gang remained outside, where they dragged his brother from his Prado, before shooting him about 50 metres away from the house.

“It appeared as if he had attempted to resist, because the car’s lock was broken. He was shot three times in the chest, head and left knee,” narrated Edwin.

Rubbishing the police version that his brother was shot while attempting to rescue a woman from thugs, Edwin says they were shocked when they read that in the papers.

“Nobody was attacked by thugs in the manner explained by police. My brother was pulled out of the car and eliminated. We still don’t know the motive,” said Edwin.

The 27-year-old businessman was in his house in Njiru, about three kilometres away, when his niece called, breaking the sad news. Edwin rushed to his brother’s home on a motorcycle only to find that a neighbour had taken him to St Francis Community Hospital in Kasarani.

“He was in bad shape. Since my brother was a highly religious person, I asked those around his bed to join me in prayer. As soon as I said ‘Amen’, he turned his head and succumbed to the injuries,” recalls Edwin.

A senior detective who did not wish to give details of the murder ruled out politics and pointed out that Mukabana’s death could be linked to land disputes that had dogged him. The deceased, who hailed from Mahondo village in Butere, was planning to vie for the Embakasi East parliamentary seat currently held by John Ogutu Omondi.

Hurlingham East Resident Association (HERA) chairman, Jonah Marahpash, described Mukabana as a dedicated and committed leader. Neighbours have no clue of what exactly transpired that night, since everybody was scared by the sound of gunshots.

“Nobody knows the direction the killers took when escaping. People only came out when my brother’s wife stormed out of the gate screaming after the criminals had left,” recounted Edwin.

Even then, they at first feared moving close to Mukabana who was writhing in pain on the ground for fear that he could be one of the thugs. According to Edwin, his sister-in-law initially thought the gunmen had escaped from the scene with her husband.

Victor Mjuka, a youth leader, challenged the government to get to the bottom of the murder, which comes almost a year after Administration Police Chief Inspector Achelles Kiwanuka was murdered in similar style in the estate. Kiwanuka’s house is about 200 metres from where Mukabana, 42, was shot dead. The officer’s killing was linked to land cartels operating in Njiru, Chokaa and Ruai.

“There is panic following these systematic killings. First, it starts with rumours that so and so is wanted for elimination, and before long, something happens. Remember the case of Achok? Leaflets threatening his life were circulated in the area. But when you go to police to report the romours, they dismiss you. The government should now explain why people are being killed,” demanded the Njiru Ward MCA aspirant.

There are claims that three days prior to his death, the father of four had an altercation with a businessman over a disputed piece of land in Donholm Phase VIII. After the argument, the ODM leader summoned some of his aides for a meeting at a hotel along Kangundo Road.

“As grassroots leaders, he called us to strategise on how to approach the Donholm land issue,” said a source that attended the meeting.

Kayole OCPD Ali Nuno said that detectives are still probing the killing, which many people silently link to land. Mukabana was buried on April 29. At the time of his death, he was the chairman of Bamaho Youth Group, a land buying and selling company in Embakasi.

ODM leader, Raila Odinga, condemned the cold-blooded murder when he visited Mukabana’s home to condole with the family.

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