Truth team told of Raila hand in failed coup


Former president Daniel arap Moi (left), Prime Minister Raila Odinga (centre) and Deputy PM Musalia Mudavadi at a past function on November 22, 2008.

Prime Minister Raila Odinga was involved in the failed 1982 coup to overthrow former president Daniel arap Moi’s government, the Truth Justice and Reconciliation Commission heard on Sunday.

Retired Kenya Air Force officer Maxwell Kivihya told the TJRC sitting in Bungoma that Mr Odinga met Senior Private Hezekiah Ochuka several times at a house on Fourth Avenue Ngong Road in Nairobi.

Snr Private Ochuka led junior officers in the abortive coup.

At the time, KAF was under the command of Peter Kariuki while Jackson Mulinge was the Chief of the General Staff, Mr Kivihya recalled.

He also named a Lt Mwambura, Cpl Odero and Cpl Oriwa as some of the key players in the coup attempt that resulted in the loss of 300 lives, half of them university students and civilians.

Mr Odinga was later absolved of involvement in court.

Mr Kivihya, who retired as a major, said that a day after the abortive coup, the former president ordered that all Kenya Air Force men be rounded up and taken for hanging at Kamiti Prison.

The directive was effected and servicemen and officers were locked up at Kamiti, Naivasha, King’ong’o and Shimo la Tewa prisons.

“President Moi appointed Brig Kibwana and Maj Musomba to conduct interrogations and torture,” Mr Kivihya told the hushed audience, adding that torture was intensified to yield forced confessions.

He said four categories of KAF airmen emerged during their arrest: those with prior knowledge of the coup, some of who escaped to Tanzania; those without prior knowledge, but who were imprisoned or hanged without legal processing and representation; those who stayed in prison, but could not be charged for lack of evidence and were later freed due to international pressure; and those who were charged and acquitted by the High Court.

Only a quarter of the airmen who knew of the plot raised the alarm at the Eastleigh and Nanyuki barracks and took up arms in readiness for the next order, said Mr Kivihya.

“Cpl Odero ordered men to go to town and wait for the next order, which had not come by the time loyal forces from the Kenya Army caught up with them. A few KAF airmen who had been taken to Broadcasting House were killed there by Kenya Army men,” he recalled.