What you need to know:
- Mr Itumbi, once a State House insider, has in recent years turned into one of the most vocal critics of the government and a key campaigner for DP Ruto.
- His bare-knuckle comments on social media have attracted both praise and scorn.
Controversy over the alleged kidnapping and torture of blogger Dennis Itumbi continued Friday December 24, as Deputy President William Ruto’s allies pointed accusing fingers at the state without providing evidence to back their claims.
This, even as information about Mr Itumbi’s ordeal continued to trickle in, showing that the “Hustler Nation” digital strategist spent at least eight hours in the hands of his abductors before being dumped in a quarry in Lucky Summer estate, Nairobi.
Mr Itumbi, once a State House insider and a former director of Innovation, Digital and Diaspora Communication in the Office of the President, has in recent years turned into one of the most vocal critics of the government and a key campaigner for Dr Ruto after the DP fell out with his boss, President Kenyatta. His bare-knuckle comments on social media have attracted both praise and scorn.
Mr Itumbi’s latest ordeal according, to Dr Ruto’s allies, has been caused by a post he made on December 17, saying a crack unit within the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) had been created to harass businessmen allied to the Deputy President.
“So malicious is the scheme that owners [of small and medium-sized businesses] who visited the DP recently from Nyamakima are getting tax arrears letters despite the fact that some of their accounts are compliant and barely have Sh5,000,” said Mr Itumbi.
Dr Ruto’s allies allege that the KRA matter is among some of the questions those who abducted the blogger asked him repeatedly in a bid to find out who leaked to him such information.
“In particular, the abductor-torturers emphatically demanded that Itumbi stop discussing Mr David Mwendwa, son of the Inspector-General of the Police, who is under investigation following a road accident that claimed the lives of two boda boda riders,” said Nakuru senator Susan Kihika.
“We want to tell President Uhuru Kenyatta that it is not just the life of Itumbi, but anyone who suffers or dies because of these hit squads, their blood will be on his hands as the appointing authority,” said Elgeyo Marakwet Senator Kipchumba Murkomen.
Still a lot of questions remain unanswered about what happened between 2pm on Thursday and 11pm when Mr Itumbi was found by a boda boda rider.
According to Mr Itumbi’s friends and the Deputy President’s allies, the blogger was kidnapped around 2:50pm on Thursday afternoon while leaving a barbershop in Thindigua on Kiambu Road.
“Eyewitnesses reported that three men violently accosted Itumbi and swiftly forced him into a white Toyota Premio saloon car, registration number KBL 455S,” said Dr Ruto’s allies in a joint statement read by Senator Kihika.
“Someone at the barbershop had the presence of mind to find the cellphone number of Mr Josiah Murigu, a close associate of Mr Itumbi and reported the abduction. Murigu, quickly alerted Itumbi’s colleagues and family, who mobilised and reported the matter to Thindigua Police Post,” said the senator.
A search on the number plate of the car alleged to have been used to kidnap Mr Itumbi showed that it was not a white Toyota Premio. It is, in fact, a Mitsubishi station wagon, grey. Additionally, the vehicle, whose chassis number is 2010MSA2300749, is owned by a Mr Ndalut.
From Thindigua, it is claimed Mr Itumbi was driven around while blindfolded and handcuffed with his head facing down. At one point, Kikuyu MPKimani Ichungwa said, Mr Itumbi became unconscious from beatings and lost track of time.
“They tied him and turned him upside down with his mouth taped and hands covered using a handkerchief. At one point he heard the men asking for two double-cabin pick-up trucks before they dumped him,” said Mr Ichungwa.
“He was eventually thrown out of the car into a thicket and left for dead. He managed to crawl to the nearest road, where he sought help from boda boda riders and this is where Mr Makokha, a taxi driver, recognised him and offered to help,” read the statement. It is the taxi driver who rushed Mr Itumbi to Neema Uhai Hospital in Kasarani for treatment.
While at the hospital, the driver called Mr Itumbi’s brother David, who in turn broke the news that the blogger had been found at 1am yesterday morning.
“My brother has been badly beaten. We thank God that he is alive. By his own account, he was arrested by police and beaten and tortured,” said David. After receiving emergency treatment at Uhai Neema, Mr Itumbi was transferred to Nairobi West Hospital where he is being treated for soft tissue injuries and a fractured left hand and leg. The Nation could not independently establish the extent of the injuries.
“He suffered extensive torture, including repeated battery of his limbs with a hammer and sustained soft tissue injuries as well as fractures,” said Ms Kihika.
National Police Service spokesman Bruno Shioso said investigations into the alleged kidnapping had started.
“We appeal to members of the public to be patient during the investigations and should therefore desist from speculation,” said Mr Shioso.
In August this year Mr Itumbi said he had been shot at on the Northern Bypass in Nairobi.
Police disputed the claims, saying they did not find any signs of the alleged shooting.