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DCI unit disbanded as probe on missing Indians takes shape

 The main entrance of DCI headquarters on Kiambu road. [David Njaaga, Standard]

A senior detective from the elite Special Service Unit was on Friday directed to hand over his office and proceed on leave.

According to insiders, the decision to force the unit’s senior manager out shows that President William Ruto’s government had no intention of keeping the dreaded police crux squad.

Speaking in Kericho during an interdenominational prayer service the President let the cat out of the bag accusing the offficers of turning into killers instead of protectors.

“The country was very insecure. The police changed and became killers instead of protectors of ordinary Kenyans. I have ordered the disbandment of a Special Police unit that was killing Kenyans arbitrarily. We will change this country for the better,” Ruto said.

The Special Service Unit was re-branded by former DCI boss George Kinoti. The unit was previously known as the Special Crime Prevention Unit. It was a feared unit that faced an image crisis due to allegations of extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances of suspects.

The name change was intended to give the police unit a new look. On Friday, SSU boss Pius Gitari met a section of his team in Nairobi and passed the decision by his bosses to force him out of office.

Although he did not explain why he was being forced out, he told his officers that it was clear that the unit they serve would not be around for much longer. Gitari, who spoke with The Standard on the phone, confirmed that he had handed over his office to another senior officer.

He denied allegations that some of his officers were involved in the July kidnapping of four individuals in Nairobi. Gitari stated that his decision to leave office was administrative in nature and had nothing to do with any investigation.

“Yes, I have handed over the office but on the issue of investigations, I don’t know,” Gitari said on the phone, adding that he was waiting for instructions from his bosses.

The National Police Internal Affairs Unit (IAU) which until yesterday was headed by Mohammed Amin (now DCI boss) has been investigating the disappearance of the individuals.

Mohammed Zaid, Sami Kidwai Zulfiqra, Ahmed Khan and Nichodemus Mwania Mwange were reported missing on July 24 at Lang’ata police station. Two of them are Indians said to have been part of President William Ruto’s campaigns.

The two were among five Indian tourists who arrived in the country on April 16. They travelled to various locations, including high-end hotels in Rift Valley and Nairobi.

They went missing on July 24, hours after being spotted at an entertainment venue in Nairobi’s Westlands neighbourhood. On the same night, the car they were driving was discovered abandoned on Mombasa Road.

On Friday, IAU officers presented two men in court, where the police requested more time to investigate in connection with the missing individuals. The two men, who are said to be NIS officers, will now be detained for 21 days amid investigations.

The two were arrested on suspicion that a car they co-own was used as a getaway vehicle in the abduction of the men. Investigators testified in court that they believe the two conspired with serving police officers and asked the court not to release them because it would interfere with investigations.

Police are still trying to trace the missing men.

On September 17, lawyer Ahmednssir Abdullahi representing the families of the missing men, said the investigation was moved to the IAU after it emerged that security officers could have been involved in the disappearance.

An investigation report by the Lang’ata DCI also pointed an accusing finger at security operatives. The DCI report said information from the Immigration Department indicated none of the men had left the country.

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