Nicholas Maina

Nicholas Maina who was shot dead by police at his home at Kamune village in Murang'a on July 31, 2023.

| Joseph Kanyi | Nation Media Group

How Sh20,000 MP handout ended tragically for Murang’a man felled by police bullets

If Nicholas Maina had known that the Sh20,000 handout given to him in public by Mathioya MP Edwin Mugo on July 14, 2023, would lead to his death a week later, he would perhaps have rejected it. 

Maina died when a heavily armed contingent of about 15 police officers stormed his father's compound in Gaithunu village around midday and shot him in the left leg as he fled.

The policemen then dragged him about 30 metres, laid him on a concrete grave in a neighbour's house and shot him in the neck, killing him on the spot.

The 38-year-old had been attending a function at the Kamune Social Hall where Mr Edward Wambugu, a new assistant chief, was being installed.

"The MP and senior security officers were present. Maina was a classmate of Mr Mugo and their friendship had remained intact even after my son dropped out of Form Three... My son had presented Mr Mugo with a cockerel at the function and in appreciation, he was publicly given Sh20,000," Ms Eunice Wanjiku told Nation. Africa.

Johyn Magu

John Magu points to the spot where a bullet hit as police pursued his son Nicholas Maina.

Photo credit: Joseph Kanyi | Nation Media Group

 Mr Mugo said, "I remember that man, yes I gave him the money, but what followed I do not know. I was saddened by the killing but it is under investigation".

Mr Maina is said to have pocketed the money and walked away from the meeting with some youths in hot pursuit to get a share.

 "Among the youths who followed Maina was a local policeman who also demanded a share of the money," said David Ngugi, a resident who claimed to have witnessed the fracas.

He said that "the policeman, who is well known, grabbed Maina and threatened to mobilise youths to take all the money from him if he was not willing to surrender half of the cash".

 A scuffle ensued and Maina reportedly punched the policeman on the forehead before running away.  Security agents in the area plotted a revenge strategy that proved fatal for Maina.

bullet hole

A bullet hole on a wall at John Magu's home in Kamune village, Murang'a County. 

Photo credit: Joseph Kanyi | Nation Media Group

A Mathioya security meeting minutes seen by Nation.Africa, dated July 17, 2023, stated that "Maina has been profiled as a violent criminal and drug peddler who has been using a motorcycle and a white Probox car to conduct his illegal business".

It further stated that "he has shown by word and deed that he intended to harm any officer who dares to confront him for the purpose of arrest".

 At the meeting, it was decided that Maina should be arrested. The police went to his home to arrest him on July 30 but he was not found.   

The following day, however, the officers who seemed to have been spying on Maina, found him inside the gated compound and immediately opened fire.  

When Nation.Africa visited the compound, we counted more than 10 bullet holes in the gate, trees and structures in the compound.

John Magu

John Magu and his wife Eunice Wanjiku during at their home on August 13, 2023. 

Photo credit: Joseph Kanyi | Nation Media Group

Dishon Githinji, a helper on the family's farm, said he was sitting in the cattle shed with Maina when the gunfire ripped through the air.  

"Maina knew he was wanted by the police. He ran and jumped over the gate as I dived into a cow dung heap," he said.

After about 10 minutes, the air was quiet, but for the dogs of the village, which began to bark.

"I crept out of my hiding place. The villagers had gathered around the homestead and I could hear the police talking on the said that the target had been promoted to glory (police jargon for shooting a person)...I started crying," he said.

Ms Jerusha Watiri says she was working on a nearby shamba when she saw three police officers chasing Maina.  

John Magu

John Magu stands on the grave of a neighbour where his son Nicholas was shot dead by police on July 31, 2023.

Photo credit: Joseph Kanyi | Nation Media Group

"The officers reached where he had fallen, kicked him several times and held his hands... They dragged him to a neighbour's shamba where they found two cemented graves... They placed him on one of them, retreated and one of them fired. Maina tried to stand up and then collapsed on the concrete grave," she said.

Mathioya Deputy County Commissioner Mr Kiplagat Tarus said "This was an operation to flush out a criminal".

Police later took his body to Kiria-ini Hospital mortuary and registered it as a police case. Their report stated that the victim who was "armed with a panga and two clubs and while resisting arrest cut one of the officers on the hand". 


A resident of Kamune village in Murang'a County points at a bullet mark on a piece of wood.

Photo credit: Joseph Kanyi | Nation Media Group

The post-mortem by Dr Kamotho Waitenga revealed that "he was shot twice - in the calf of the left leg and beneath the flesh under the left jaw, with the bullet exiting through the right ear after tearing off the windpipe and part of the dental".

The pathologist attributed his death to acute haemorrhage and cerebral trauma as a result of these two bullets.

Mr Maina's father, John Magu, is distraught: "My only son was a farmer and welder who supported his family through sheer hard work. 

Maina's widow Mercy Wanjiku said: "The tragedy that this government has inflicted on me is grave... first by falsely branding me as the wife of a criminal, making my five children live with the tag of being sired by a criminal father and taking away our breadwinner in a manner that can only be termed official murder".