What you need to know:
- The key focus of the investigations is the rogue officer said to have been running a police protection ring for a notorious gang of armed criminals that has terrorised Nairobi, which the four men are said to have been part of.
A police officer who was recently transferred from Nairobi is among the persons of interest to detectives as they try to find answers as to who kidnapped and killed four men who have captured national attention.
The new information came shortly after bodies of two men were found in Murangá on Saturday. Their identities had not been confirmed by the time of going to press but police believe they maybe those of the two missing Kitengela men.
Elijah Obuong (35), Benjamin Amache Imbai (30), Brian Oduor (36) and Jack Anyango Ochieng (37) disappeared on April 19 after having lunch at Enkare Club in Kitengela. They were bundled into a Toyota Prado leaving behind a Toyota Mark X registration number KCQ 715C that they were using.
The case, which has since been taken over by the Homicide Department of the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI), is taking a new twist every day. Every clue that comes out is increasingly making it clear that the four men were engaged in some shady dealings. However, nothing so far shows who kidnapped them.
The directors of the company that owns the car they were using, which we have established belongs to Ahmad Motors Limited, are among the people lined up for questioning by detectives to ascertain how the four men got possession of the car that day. The company, which is based in Mombasa, was formed in 2012.
Police protection ring
The key focus of the investigations, however, is the rogue officer who is said to have been running a police protection ring for a notorious gang of armed criminals that has terrorised Nairobi, which the four men are said to have been part of.
He was transferred from the station he was posted to after his seniors realised his shady dealings a few months ago. The move is said to have left the gang, which has existed for over three years, not only badly exposed but also increased the premium demanded from other rogue officers for protection purposes.
The head of the gang, according to police sources, was Oduor alias Compe, whose body is believed to be one of the two that were retrieved from a river in Gatanga, Muranga, on Saturday afternoon.
By last night, Oduor and Ochieng’s families were yet to identify the bodies which were found floating in gunny bags along Thika River at Kiunyu village. The bodies were taken to General Kago Funeral Home in Thika like those of their counter parts, Obuong and Imbai.
Gatanga sub-county police boss Peter Muchemi said that villagers spotted the bodies at about 2pm and alerted them.
“A joint team of officers went to the scene. Preliminary investigations show the bodies had been in the water for some time," he said, adding the men’s identities were yet to be established, "but one looks youthful while the other was 40-something years old”.
"They were naked and there were no identification documents," Mr Muchemi said.
The fact that they had similar injuries to the ones found on Imbai’s body is what is raising suspicion that they may be linked to the disappearance of the four men. Mr Imbai’s body was discovered on Wednesday stashed in a sack and dumped in Mathioya River.
Obuong’s body was discovered on April 20 at Mukungai River in Murang’a, just a day after the four friends disappeared.
The two bodies discovered Saturday had both of their hands chopped off, testicles crushed and had several stab wounds; a clear indication that their killers were trying to extract some information from them before killing them.
Family members of the two who arrived later in the evening at the mortuary refused to speak to journalists.
Still, a few clues have emerged from the condition of the bodies that have been found and corroboration of information from people who knew the four men, which show a particular pattern that will be important in investigations on why they were killed.
As the team investigating the murders gets to work, a key clue will be on the difference in the dates that their bodies were found and the condition that they were in. All the four bodies were found in gunny bags and floating in different rivers within Murang’a County.
Additionally, the fact that all the bodies were found in Muranga, which is not only 87 kilometres away from Kitengela but is also located in an area which geographically could not be accessed at that time unless one is part of the essential service providers, is also very telling.
Out of the four, Obuong’s body was discovered first and it was just a day after they disappeared. Additionally, he did not have a lot of visible injuries on his body meaning he could have been strangled.
The other three bodies that have been found have their hands chopped at the wrists. This includes a fourth body that was found on Wednesday with Imbai’s but whose identity is yet to be established so far.
This means that there is a high likelihood that the people who killed the five men were not only one team but there was something they wanted from their victims before murdering them.
The only exception is Obuong, who according to police sources and people who know how the gang used to operate, was probably found at the wrong place at the wrong time.
Obuong used to live in Greenspan estate in Donholm. He is originally from Kitengela where his parents live. He was married, had one child and comes from a fairly well-off family with relatives in the United States.
His family insists that the flashy lifestyle he was living was being funded by his grandmother who is in the US. His favourite hangout joint was around Total in Donholm, Nairobi. It is this same location that Mr Oduor alias Compe and Ochieng alias Benteke were allegedly operating a car hire business.
Before cutting communication with us after the discovery of bodies belonging to two of her husband’s friends on Wednesday, Oduor’s wife Caroline Atieno had told the Nation that two years ago, three of her husband’s friends also disappeared the same way.
“To date they have never been traced," she said. Although the family members of the four men have insisted that they were genuine businessmen, their lifestyles showed they could have been living beyond their means.
In such kidnaps or homicides where there is no witness, investigators first try to gather as much information as possible about the victims to create a profile. So far, it has been established that not all of them were involved in car hire business as previously thought
The Nation has also independently established that it is Compe, whose residence is somewhere in Embakasi, who was the link between the gang that the four belonged to and rogue police officers who were providing them with protection.
Oduor had previously spent eight years in prison. After leaving prison he first lived in Pipeline where he is said to have started a car hire business. On the side he was also selling car spares but he soon found himself on the wrong side of the law.
The cooperation between rogue law enforcers and criminals is said to have been behind some of the biggest robberies in Nairobi for the last three or four years.
The gang, whose members could be at least 50, and spread across Nairobi mostly targets people who make bulk withdrawals in banks. They also conduct hijackings, car break-ins and do home break-ins.
Additional reporting by Simon Ciuri, firstname.lastname@example.org