How elite 'killer' squad drew Ruto's anger and earned a date with DCI investigators

William Ruto DCI Zulfiqar Ahmad Khan

Zulfiqar Ahmad Khan who has been missing, DCI headquarters and President William Ruto.

Photo credit: File

Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) officers spent the better part of yesterday morning grilling their colleagues who served in the disbanded Special Service Unit (SSU), which was formed by former top detective George Kinoti in 2019.

On Sunday, acting Inspector-General of Police Noor Gabow disbanded the SSU, in a move that was later confirmed by President Dr William Ruto, who accused the unit of engaging in extra-judicial killings.

The Nation has established that the past two days have been hectic for the officers who were suspended immediately after the unit was disbanded and put on 24-hour surveillance.

The grilling of the former SSI officers centred mainly around the disappearance of two Indians; Zulfiqar Ahmad Khan and Mohamed Zaid Sami Kidwai, in an incident that threatens the diplomatic ties between Kenya and India.

On the day the two went missing, they were in the company of Mr Nicodemus Mwania Mwange, a Kenyan who worked as their driver.

Zulfiqar Ahmad Khan

Mr Zulfiqar Ahmad Khan, on July 21, 2022, was in the Maasai Mara, in Narok County and was all smiles as he shared images of a lion inviting friends to join him for breakfast.

Photo credit: Courtesy

“The officers have for the past two days been grilled over the whereabouts of the two Indians and a Kenyan driver who was with them when they were kidnapped. So far they have denied knowledge of  the whereabouts of the two, insisting they were not involved,” a detective privy to the matter and who spoke in confidence as they are not authorised to address the media, said.

After the disbandment of the unit, the officers who worked there were ordered to surrender their firearms and government wares in their possession.

They spent the better part of two days recording statements at the Internal Affairs Unit (IAU) in Upper Hill, Nairobi County.

The Nation learnt that they were asked to give an account of where they were on July 25, 26 and 27.

The two Indians and their driver went missing on the night of July 26 after they left a popular joint in Westlands.

Newly appointed DCI boss Amin Mohamed Ibrahim issued a statement announcing the disbandment of the SSU just a day after he assumed office.

“The DCI Special Service Unit (SSU) has been disbanded with immediate effect. This follows a directive from the Acting Inspector-General of Police, Mr Noor Gabow. All officers serving in the disbanded unit have been recalled to DCI Headquarters for further instructions,” the DCI said on its official Twitter page, adding that the NPS was preparing to reorganise under the new administration.

Interestingly, the new DCI boss is the immediate former head of IAU, the department that is mandated to receive and investigate complaints against police officers.

The IAU was formed on July 15, 2013 and is housed in separate premises from the rest of the NPS.

The unit investigates and makes recommendations once they find an officer to have broken the law.

It may recommend interdiction, suspension or reprimanding of the officer concerned.

Hours after the disbandment of the unit was made public, President Ruto, while speaking in Kericho County, said members of the police unit had become killers, instead of protectors, of ordinary Kenyans.

"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," Dr Ruto said.

A police source told the Nation that some detectives had been tasked with tracing the whereabouts of the two foreigners and their driver but to no avail.

“Some officers were sent to Aberdare Forest but nothing has been found so far. Efforts to trace the three are still ongoing,” said the source.

On July 26, 2022, at 12:30pm, the three, who were coming from Westlands, were stopped by two vehicles near Ole Sereni hotel and bundled into a waiting unmarked motor vehicle, which soon after  sped off. The men who abducted them wore face masks and carried rifles.

Zulfiqar Ahmad Khan

Mr Zulfiqar Ahmad Khan, on July 21, 2022, was in the Maasai Mara, in Narok County and was all smiles as he shared images of a lion inviting friends to join him for breakfast.

Photo credit: Courtesy

The grey Toyota Fielder that the three had been using was abandoned at the scene, with its doors wide open. It was later towed to Lang’ata Police Station.

A report on their disappearance had earlier been made at Akila Police Station under Occurrence Book (OB) number 16/24/07/2022.

There has been immense interest in the case, especially after a court in Nairobi ordered on August 4 that the three be produced in court. This, however, never happened.

The order by Justice Hedwig Ong’udi came after the family of the two foreigners moved to court through senior counsel Ahmednasir Abdullahi.

However, detectives following up on the case were ordered to hand over their findings and files to the IAU. This happened as a new team took charge of the case.

The Nation on Monday contacted a close relative of Mr Mwania (the driver), who said nothing had come up on the whereabouts of the three.

“After linking you up with the family what will happen? Have they been found? May God protect them,” said the niece who identified herself only as Lucy.

Mr Zulfiqar Ahmad Khan of passport number 25791129 and Mr Mohamed Zaid Sami Kidwai of passport number Z6055003 were known to be good friends.

Yesterday, a political source privy to the matter said Mr Kidwai had arrived in the country earlier than Mr Khan and was in constant communication with the campaign team of President Ruto.

A perusal of his social media accounts shows Mr Kidwai, who was an Information and Communication Technology (ICT) expert, led a private life.

Unlike his friend, who shared with his followers and friends details of how he was enjoying life in Kenya, Mr Kidwai chose a silent life.

On July 21, Mr Khan was in Maasai Mara in Narok County and was all smiles as he shared images of a lion, inviting friends to join him for breakfast.

Five months before he travelled to Kenya, Mr Khan was in Beijing, China, where he attended the Olympic Games.

In September 2021, he was in Madrid, Spain, from where he shared images and videos and promised that he would visit the city again. He had arrived in Spain on September 11 that year.

Back in India, the family of Mr Khan says he had come to Kenya on a tourist visa and it remains unclear why he was being linked to Kenyan politics.

Mr Rajiv Dubey, a close ally of Mr Khan, has sent a petition on behalf of his friends, colleagues and well-wishers to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

They want the Kenyan government to ensure Mr Khan returns to his country safe and sound.

Mr Arindam Bagchi, a spokesperson for the Indian ministry of external affairs, said they were “keeping a close watch”.

In a statement issued last week by Mr Khan’s friends, they said he was visiting Kenya as a tourist when he suddenly went silent.

He was scheduled to return to India on July 24 but has not been seen or heard from.

“As far as we understand, there were two Indian nationals, Zulfiqar Ahmad Khan and Zaid Sami Kidwai. They’ve been missing in Kenya since July 23,” Mr Bagchi told reporters at the weekend.