For years now, Nairobi has been rocked by an upsurge of unsolved murders that have left families in pain after the bodies of their loved ones were found dumped in horrific circumstances.
The script has been eerily similar: Relatives say the victims received a call, left and then disappeared.
A few days or weeks later, their bodies are found dumped in thickets or rivers. Then, after the burials, follow the often elusive quest for justice.
But on Friday, September 23 this year, Kenyans, for the first time, got a glimpse of what these abductees go through, in the form of videos, CCTV footage and images detailing how gunmen “abducted” a man at 3am, then on the same day took a woman at 11am, whom they later dumped in another part of Nairobi.
Then on the same day, and in broad daylight, the gunmen tracked down and killed Kevin Otieno, 23, a few metres from his house in Utawala, Embakasi East Constituency, by pumping 36 bullets into his body.
The Nation has pieced together a series of incidents involving 10 people who have fallen victim to the brutal operations of the mysterious killers.
Only two of the 10 emerged alive. They include Otieno and his brother, Mr Alfred Odhiambo.
The latter is one of the two survivors. Then there are the Kasarani four—Frank Obegi, Fred Obare, Moses Nyachae and Elijah Omeka—none of whom survived, as well as suspected drug dealer Joseph Ng’endo Njau (dead) and Evelyn Nduku (survived).
The others are David Ochieng Odera (dead) and his unidentified friend, who was also killed.
On the night of the last Thursday of September, two men were shot dead along Mirema Drive in Kasarani Sub-county. Police later identified one of them as David Ochieng Odera, 34, while the second had not yet been identified. Investigations revealed a Toyota Belta pulled up near Jifiche Bar around 10.30pm, with two men aboard. One of the men got out and walked to a nearby butchery, leaving his colleague making a phone call.
A few minutes later, a Toyota Probox drove into the vicinity from the Lumumba Drive direction. On board was the driver, a woman, and two men.
The two men stepped out and confronted the man who was making a call in the other car, demanding a ‘mzigo’ (parcel), insisting that he could “not eat it alone’. A bitter argument ensued, which drew the attention of revellers milling around the nearby clubs.
It is then that Odera rushed back from the butchery and retrieved a gun, intent on protecting his friend from his two attackers. However, they were quicker on the draw and shot Odera dead.
Odera’s friend was then handcuffed and shot, even as he pleaded for mercy. The two men then left the scene before police officers arrived and took away the bodies. A police source this week told the Nation that the occupants of the Probox were part of the group that killed Otieno and abducted his brother, Mr Alfred Odhiambo, who was picked from his house at 3am on Friday, September 23, by armed people clad in balaclavas.
Once the door was opened, they walked in and picked up Mr Odhiambo, demanding to be handed a firearm that they apparently believed he had.
They then handcuffed, assaulted and blindfolded him, before bundling him into one of their two vehicles — a white Land Cruiser and a grey double-cabin Toyota pickup.
Mr Odhiambo’s family would not see him again until Thursday, September 29, 2022, when he was found abandoned in Thika town.
“Yes, he was found, but he looks really scared. He is not talking much,” a family source told the Nation. The source said Odhiambo had been warned against disclosing what had transpired.
According to the source, Odhiambo had been bundled into the bonnet of another vehicle, where he stayed for hours as the vehicle moved around.
“He cannot tell where they took him, but they later locked him up in a room and fed him until his release,” the family member said.
In an interview with the Nation before her husband was found, Mr Odhiambo’s wife, Maryanne Wangui, said they were praying that he was alive.
“As a family, all we want is that my husband is found safe and sound. My request to those who have him is that they should release him as he is a peaceful man who has always worked hard to ensure we are taken care of as a family,” Ms Wangui had said.
Six hours after capturing Mr Odhiambo from his house, the gunmen arrived at China Ndogo Plaza Apartment in Mwiki, where Ms Evelyn Nduku, alias Bree, resided. Ms Nduku, according to neighbours, was Otieno’s girlfriend.
Those who spoke to the Nation said Otieno, the man who was shot 36 times in Utawala, had been a frequent visitor. Whenever he visited, the two could be seen taking an evening stroll together.
“He used to come here, park his car and head to the house,” said a neighbour. A close friend of Ms Nduku’s told this reporter that, for two weeks before she was picked up, the two had not been in good terms. According to the friend, on the same day Ms Nduku was picked up and her boyfriend killed, she had shared a photo of Otieno on her WhatsApp status, alongside the words, “God why now?”
The gunmen did not speak to anyone. They walked straight to the fifth floor, where they picked up Ms Nduku. Neighbours said some of the men remained behind ransacking the house and only left after they were satisfied that whatever they were searching for was not there.
The men reportedly blindfolded Ms Nduku before leading her out of the building.
The Nation is in possession of a video showing how she was bundled into Land Cruiser by the gunmen, who were dressed in the same way as those who had picked Mr Odhiambo from his house earlier in the day.
After Ms Nduku was picked from her home, the gunmen headed to Mihang’o in Utawala, where Otieno lived. In Utawala, Otieno was having lunch at Naivas Supermarket in the company of a woman. Soon after, they left.
On that day, Otieno, who boda boda operators described as generous to a fault, did not board a motorbike, his favourite means of transport. Instead, he decided to walk home.
Exactly 50 metres from his house, while still in the company of the woman, Otieno received a call and excused himself. He spoke for about 30 minutes, asking the person on the other end to come his home as he was not willing to leave.
Moments later, the two vehicles which had at 3am been seen at his brother’s house, and which at 11am had picked up his girlfriend, sped towards where he was seated.
“The two vehicles were being driven at a high speed. Moments later, we all heard someone shout: Ndio huyo mkora mshike (that’s the thug, get him!)” a witness told the Nation. Otieno tried to flee the scene but it was too late. The gunmen jumped out of the vehicles and shot him from the back. He was shot while holding onto a mason who had been working at a nearby site. Otieno fell on the ground and the mason escaped unhurt.
“The gunmen quickly followed Otieno to where he lay and continued shooting at him. Everyone was shocked as the gunshots rent the air,” said another man who witnessed the incident.
In the video, some of the gunmen can be seen racing after the woman who was with Otieno. They then capture and order her to keep quiet.
The Nation has established that they later forcibly bundled her into the Land Cruiser. As this was going on, two of the gunmen were standing a few metres from where Otieno lay and continued pumping more bullets into his body. The gunmen next ordered two onlookers to hand over their mobile phones, then shot several times in the air and left.
A detective attached to the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) told this reporter that Mr Otieno was an associate of Joseph Ng’endo Njau, a known drug peddler in the city.
“They were close allies, though it’s hard to tell why he was killed,” said the officer who spoke in confidence as they are not authorised to speak to the media. Njau was found dead in June alongside three members of the Kasarani Four — Obegi, Nyachae and Omeka. The three, according to the police, received calls that lured them to a central position before they were picked up, never to be seen alive again.
Four months since their bodies were discovered, police have never given a conclusive report on what might have happened and no one has been arrested in connection with the killings. Njau was reportedly eyeing the Njiru MCA seat on a Jubilee Party ticket but had an active case in court, according to the Kenya Law website.
In 2019, Njau was arrested and found in possession of five kilos of heroin. He was seized in Westlands, Nairobi, after returning from a trip to Kampala, Uganda.
Police said he had gone to Kampala to procure the drugs, which he had hidden inside papayas.
The case was ongoing at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport courts. Hours after she was picked up, Ms Nduku was abandoned in Chokaa.
The Nation has established that she went straight to Machakos County. Contacted, Ms Nduku did not want to talk about her ordeal.
On the evening of Ms Nduku’s abduction, the white Land Cruiser was spotted at a petrol station in Njiru, where its users were enjoying meals at a hotel, this time with no arms, balaclavas and gloves. They later left in the night to an unknown destination.
Kayole Sub-county police boss Paul Wambugu said they were investigating the Friday incident.
“Investigations are ongoing to establish the motive and apprehend the culprits,” he said.