Stephen Kigathe, Lewis Ngunyi, Nura Abdi
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Where are they? Tales of anti-Ruto protesters arrested by police not to be seen again

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Stephen Kigathe, Lewis Ngunyi, Nura Abdi and Issa Osman Guyo.

Photo credit: Pool

Mukhtar Tache Ali, Nura Abdi Diba and Issa Osman had just broken bread with two other friends at a restaurant in Isiolo town on the dawn of July 6, and were about to part and go about their businesses.

As the group of five walked out of the restaurant looking to make the best out of the day, police officers lying in wait had different plans for them.

Two white Toyota Prados and white Subaru Outbacks were parked in different locations within Isiolo town.

Plain-clothes security agents cornered and violently picked them up, bundling them into the vehicles.

Two of them were thrown out of the car after a little questioning, before the vehicles sped onto the Isiolo-Nairobi highway. Those are the last known whereabouts of Mr Ali, Mr Diba and Mr Osman.

Mr Abdi Osman Guyo, elder brother of Mr Osman, said that the incident happened between 5am and 6am.

“The vehicles were parked in three different locations. They picked five of them but two were dropped in different parts as the vehicles sped towards Nairobi,” said Mr Guyo.

In a joint statement, the families demanded their immediate release after reporting their abductions at the Isiolo Police Station, which was recorded under Occurrence Book (OB) number 29/06/07/24.

They complain that the three detainees have been denied access to family, friends and legal counsel despite recent reassurances by President William Ruto that there will be no politically-motivated police excesses in his regime.

The three are among at least 18 individuals still being held by security agencies, reliable sources have informed Nation.

The number has not, however, been authoritatively confirmed as police bosses refrain from speaking on the record on their colleagues’ actions and tactics during and after the street protests that culminated in the invasion of Parliament Buildings.

A multi-agency team has been formed in a bid to investigate several individuals the government believes could have funded the anti-tax protests, though youths with huge online followings who have become the face of the protests say the protests are not funded by any political figures.


On Tuesday, Interior CS Kithure Kindiki said that investigations into some individuals are nearly complete.

A senior police officer told the Nation that the multi-agency team is drawn from the police, Kenya Defence Forces and National Intelligence Service.

The team reportedly has representatives from commercial banks tasked with tracing financial flows for suspected financiers. The lenders are being coordinated by the Financial Reporting Centre, the officer added.

The team formed a week ago has been holding a series of meetings at the National Defense College in Karen to strategise on the investigations.

Sources familiar with the matter yesterday said that the decision to form this multi-agency team was reached at a meeting held at the office of the president last Saturday and attended by all senior security bosses.

The meeting, according to sources, was chaired by the Interior CS. Inspector General of Police Japhet Koome, his deputy Douglas Kanja, NIS boss Noordin Haji and other officials from the OP were present.

While no evidence has been traced to affirm its position, the NIS in a confidential brief stated that two politicians from Central region, three from Nairobi, one from Rift Valley, a businessman, and a local and International NGO are under focus for allegedly financing the anti-government protests.

State-instigated abductions have continued despite repeated denials by President William Ruto of such kidnappings in the past month, and a directive for immediate release of all those held incommunicado.

At least 39 people died in the anti-government protests, with 361 injuries, 627 arbitrary arrests and 32 abductions, the Kenya National Human Rights Commission – an independent government body – said last week.

President Ruto has since the start of the protests shifted goalposts, first insisting that there have been no abductions in his time as Head of State, then stating that those picked up by security agencies were formally arrested.

Last week, during an X Spaces engagement, President Ruto said that he would initiate investigations into alleged abductions, and ensure that formal arrests are done in accordance with the law.

Mr Guyo said that his brother’s abductors asked the two released men to step out of the car, one at a time, and lie down facing the ground.

“They told them not to raise their heads until they completely leave the place,” he said.

It is also emerging that Issa Osman is sickly and the family is fearing for his health. He had recently married and the wife was so shaken and worried whether the husband was safe, his family said.

Mr Guyo added that the three families have tried their best to search for the three in vain. He said that they had visited various police stations both in Nairobi and Isiolo but they have not found them.

Released unconditionally

“This is just wrong and all we want is that they are released unconditionally,” he said, adding that if they had committed any crimes then they should be arraigned in court and not being held incommunicado.

At the same time, Mr Yussuf Huka who is a community elder said that they suspect that the trio had been abducted due to the protests that have for the past three weeks taken place in various parts of the country.

In Nanyuki, Lewis Ngunyi presented himself to police officers on July 8 after learning that unknown people had been tracking him with an aim to abduct him.

He has been detained since then, with the DCI only filing a miscellaneous application in court on Wednesday to hold him for a further 14 days.

Lewis was eventually released on July 10, evening.

The body of Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT) student protestor, Denzel Omondi, was found in a dam in Juja after he went missing following suspected abduction by security agents.

In Nairobi, Mr Jackson Kuria Kihara, alias Shakurthecop who is a Police Constable attached to Kamiti Prisons, was arrested for protesting outside parliament.

Mr Kihara was arrested while yelling as he displayed a placard that read: “We want justice and not your deepest condolences.”

He was arrested by officers attached to Parliament Police Station.

“The officer in charge of Kamiti Medium Prison was contacted and he confirmed the officer works under his command and is currently facing disciplinary proceedings,” a report filed at Parliament Police Station under OB number 36/09/07/2024 read in part.

The report only revealed that he had been placed in custody for the offence of participating in an unlawful assembly but never revealed which station he was being held at.

The Nation contacted Ms Doris Kemey, who is the Nairobi Central Police Station boss, who said that she was not aware of Mr Kihara’s whereabouts.

However, an officer privy to the ongoing investigations hinted that the officer was being held at Central Police Station.

Mr Benjamin Njeru of MNW and Advocates who is his lawyer said that it was very difficult to know the whereabouts of the officer as no one was willing to reveal where he had been taken to.

“We have really struggled. On July 10, the police in Parliament Station sent us to Central Police Station and there we were not given information whether he was in the cells,” Mr Njeru said.

According to him, he spent the better part of Tuesday evening and night trying to locate him in vain.

However, on Wednesday, July 10,  morning, he managed to find his client being held at Central Police Station and that he had been made aware that the police were planning to charge him for unlawful assembly.

“He was arrested for unlawful assembly which is ridiculous considering that he was demonstrating alone. To make it worse it is now over 24 hours and he has not been taken to court,” Mr Njeru said.

This is not the first time Mr Kihara has been arrested and gone missing before being found later.

Three weeks ago, images of the officer where he was captured carrying posters opposing the Finance Bill 2024, made rounds on various social media platforms.

At the time he was praised by many social media users but the joy could be cut short after it emerged that he was missing.

He went missing on June 26, and the family really suffered as they searched for him in vain and they remained with the option of pleading to the government to assist them to trace Mr Kihara.

Some of the posters that he shared on social media critiqued some of the suggestions that were part of the Finance Bill 2024. He shared the images while dressed in full police uniform.

One poster read; “Sanitary towels should be free. Unafikiria tax sana Zakayo. Power belongs to the people.”

Another one read; “Guns should not be used on peaceful protesters save them (bullets) for Haiti gangs.”

According to the National Police Service (NPS) standing orders, a police officer when using social media privately shall not, in their capacity as national police employees purport to make any official comment on social media about any incident, police policy or procedure without prior authorisation and in accordance with the media policy.

“The spokesperson appointed from the office of the Inspector General or respective Service Headquarters is responsible for representing the service externally on matters concerning communities, crimes, or policing Public comment as a private citizen,” the standing orders on the use of social media read.

The orders do give police officers the right to enter into public debates and comment on social, economic or any other issue, however, any comment shall be made strictly as a private citizen and be separate from, and avoid any reference to matters of employment with the NPS.

The orders also caution the police not to refer to their position or profession whenever they are expressing an opinion or participating in public debate in a private capacity.

“Any comments shall not be seen to represent the National Police Service, Administration Police Service, Kenya Police Service, Directorate of Criminal Investigations in part, or to compromise the officer’s ability to serve the government of the day in a politically neutral manner,” the orders state.

Obscene material

In case a police officer goes ahead and posts offensive, tribal, or obscene material on their personal social media site, the orders say that they shall be in breach of this order and shall be subject to a disciplinary procedure.

On Tuesday, the government said that it will ensure that it investigates and prosecutes all persons, including police officers, who are implicated in the abductions, enforced disappearances and arbitrary arrests of Kenyans during the anti-Finance Bill 2024 protests that rocked the country in the past 3 weeks.

Interior CS Kithure Kindiki said that all persons living in Kenya are protected from unlawful or arbitrary arrears, abductions and enforced disappearances.

"The Government reiterates its duty to respect and ensure the protection of all constitutionally guaranteed rights and will not condone any violation whether perpetuated by security personnel or by public or private persons," said Prof Kindiki.

In addition, he warned people who take advantage of peaceful protests to cause harm through vandalising and looting of property.

Ms Faith Odhiambo (LSK president) and Mr Hosea Manwa, a member of the LSK council, termed the abductions.

“As LSK we are saddened with the series of abductions taking place despite the President reassuring members of the public that this will not take place under his leadership,” Mr Manwa said.

Ms Odhiambo said that the abductions were unconstitutional and were persisting amid perpetual denial by the government.

“We would like to bring to the attention of the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) Kenya and the general public the abduction of three young men in Isiolo. We note with concern that these unconstitutional abductions persist amidst perpetual denials by government officials in charge of security over their occurrences,” she said.

“We demand an immediate investigation into this complaint and prosecution of the criminals perpetrating abduction of citizens,” she added.