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January 21, 2019

Don’t hold your breath waiting to find out who killed Juma

Controversial businessman late Jacob Juma's Car with bullet holes at Karen Police Station on May 6. Photo/File
Controversial businessman late Jacob Juma's Car with bullet holes at Karen Police Station on May 6. Photo/File

ONE of the more embarrassing features of Kenyan political life is that no high-profile assassination is ever fully resolved.

The state security organs and the AG’s chambers will make a very convincing appearance of being determined to get to the bottom of the crime; investigations will be launched left and right; but a decade later, the grieving family will be no closer to having a clear picture of what really happened to their loved one, or why it happened.

Consider the case of JM Kariuki, the legendary critic of our Founding President Jomo Kenyatta, who served as MP for Nyandarua North.

Main story: Probe Jimmy Wanjigi over Jacob Juma murder - family

When in 1975 JM (as he was known to one and all) was murdered and his brutalized body found in a thicket somewhere in the Ngong Forest, there was a countrywide explosion of outrage. To control the situation, a parliamentary select committee was set up to investigate the assassination – for this was clearly no ordinary murder.

According to one online source, “A Parliamentary Select Committee was immediately established to investigate the circumstances surrounding Kariuki’s murder. The Committee's report implicated senior police officers Ignatius Iriga Nderi, Ben Gethi, Wanyoike Thungu, Patrick Shaw and senior administrative officers and politicians, but no one was ever punished. It is most likely that the committee was the means used by Kenyatta's government to mitigate a potential revolt. When the report was finally released, the anger had subsided and likelihood of revolt was much lower.”

Much the same pattern was seen when in 1991 the flamboyant and brilliant Kenyan Foreign Minister, Dr Robert Ouko, was murdered somewhere near his home in Koru, Kisumu County.

Dr Ouko’s murder occurred at a time when it was not so easy to brush such a high-profile assassination under the carpet. So we had Scotland Yard Detective John Troon accompanied by a forensic pathologist and two other detectives called in to launch an independent investigation; there was a public inquiry led by Justice Evans Gicheru (who was to later serve as Kenya’s Chief Justice); and more than a decade after Dr Ouko’s murder, we even had a parliamentary select committee, led by Kisumu MP Gor Sungu, hence referred to as the Gor Sungu Commission.

Out of all this came all kinds of theories and allegations, as to who had been behind this assassination and why Dr Ouko was tortured and finally murdered – much as JM Kariuki also was. But to date there has been no conclusive court action that could land any accused behind bars.

Within this context, a little scepticism is in order as to whether we will really ever know who killed Jacob Juma.



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