Police arrest ‘main suspect’ in murder of Isiolo boda boda rider

Closed shops in Isiolo town

Some of the shops in Isiolo town that were closed as tensions rose and crowds engaged in violence, following the killing of a boda boda rider, as pictured on March 5, 2021. 

Photo credit: Waweru Wairimu | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • Police accuse him of mobilising those who killed Abduba Osman, for allegedly stealing motorcycle spare parts, and of taking part in the crime.

Detectives on Tuesday arrested an 18-year-old man as the prime suspect in the murder of a boda boda rider in Isiolo, an incident which resulted in days of violence and other crimes in the town.

Douglas Karondo Murithi, himself a boda boda operator, was apprehended in Tigania West, Meru County.

Police accuse him of mobilising those who killed Abduba Osman, for allegedly stealing motorcycle spare parts, and of taking part in the crime.

Police reports indicate that Mr Osman, who hailed from Burat ward, was accosted by a group of men in Isiolo town and transported in a tuk tuk to Kandebene along the Isiolo-Meru border where he was roughed up and set on fire.

Isiolo County Police Commander Joseph Kigen told Nation.Africa that the suspect, who went into hiding after the incident, had claimed ownership of the stolen motorcycle and is believed to have been the lead planner of the killing.

The killing caused tension in the cosmopolitan Isiolo town for days, forcing traders to close their shops for fear of looting and violence.

Two other suspects, who are also boda boda operators, were arrested on Monday during a security meeting at the Isiolo town police grounds that brought together hundreds of riders.

The duo, both aged 28, were identified by other riders amid the meeting that sought to find a lasting solution to their differences.

MCAs Idd Hassan (Bulapesa), Yarrow Hassan (Burat), Abdi Duba (Wabera) and Nominated MCA Sumeya Bishar were present.

Eight suspects

Mr Karondo’s arrest brings to eight the number of suspects arrested since the incident took place, among them the owner and rider of the tuk tuk used to ferry Mr Osman to the scene of the crime.

Also in custody is the owner of the garage where the stolen spare parts were found.

The police commander said the suspects will be arraigned at the High Court in Meru.

After the killing, a group of bodaboda operators from the victim’s community unleashed terror on another, accusing its members of being behind the incident.

That same evening, a crowd broke into shops in the town and looted various items from business premises.

Several taxi operators incurred losses as the attackers hurled stones at their vehicles.

The chaos left dozens of workers trapped in their offices as they opted to wait till nightfall to leave in order to avoid the attackers.

Isiolo leaders

Isiolo Senator Fatuma Dullo, National Council of Elders Treasurer and chair Ahmed Sett and Phares Rutere, Governor Mohamed Kuti, County Commissioner Herman Shambi and Woman Representative Rehema Jaldesa address journalists in Isiolo town on March 7, 2021.

Photo credit: Waweru Wairimu | Nation Media Group

Ripple effects

On the third day of the violence, a boy related to the deceased was hit by a lorry ferrying sand after the driver lost control upon being pelted with stones at Kambi Garba.

The boy had just been picked up by his father from a Madrassa class when the accident happened. He is under treatment at a local hospital.

Less than an hour after the accident, a teacher travelling on a motorcycle from Leparua was injured after rowdy youths attacked him in Isiolo town. His motorcycle was burnt and reduced to a shell.

Another group of youths, on receiving the information, attacked a bus headed to Isiolo from Nairobi near the Isiolo International Airport, leaving several people injured.

The violence affected transport on Meru-Isiolo road and spilled over to neighbouring counties, with the majority of matatu operators in Meru town refusing to transport passengers from one of the warring communities.

The happenings left at least 10 people injured and several business people counting losses.

Mr Kigen said eight people, including six boda boda operators, were arrested for taking part in the riots at Mukuu. The others are two women arrested for obstructing police officers from making an arrest in the area.

Investigations on

The Nation is aware that detectives are relying on CCTV footage from some of the shops in Isiolo town to nab those who broke in and stole property.

Governor Mohamed Kuti recently asked the traders to install CCTV cameras for security purposes and for adequate investigations in case of theft.

Police are hoping to arrest more suspects as a video taken during the incident is fully analysed.

Normalcy is slowly returning to the town a few days after local leaders, elders and the security team met and called for peace among all communities in the county.

A majority of the shops in the town that remained shut for more than three days reopened on Tuesday, with the business people hopeful about peace and smooth operations.

“We pray the chaos doesn't reemerge because our businesses have been adversely affected,” said Ms Aisha Adan, a cutlery seller.

National Council of Elders chair Phares Rutere and Treasurer Ahmed Sett said they will mobilise elders from both communities to champion peace.

To streamline the boda boda sector and deal with congestion, Isiolo town municipality manager Osman Halake said the county is working on a transportation Bill.

Governor Kuti, Senator Fatuma Dullo, Woman Representative Rehema Jaldesa, Isiolo North MP Hassan Odha and his South counterpart Abdi Koropu Sunday resolved to work together to ensure peace among the communities in the county.