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Army given • Saturday February 1, 2003

Saturday Nation / The East African (Kenya), Feb. 1, 2003

The Government yesterday gave the military’s top brass three days to explain why 10 of their Land Rovers were given to the outlawed Mungiki sect in the lead up to the General Election.

The Chief of General Staff, General Joseph Kibwana, was asked to investigate the scandal in person and present his findings to the Office of the President on Monday.

The report must detail the value of the vehicles, who got them and why they were disposed of, military sources said.

The orders were issued by National Security minister Chris Murungaru when he met Gen Kibwana and other top generals at the Department of Defence headquarters, Nairobi.

The issue of Land Rovers cropped up when the minister made his first familiarisation tour of the DoD, a month after Narc came to power.

Dr Murungaru, who is responsible for the military, reportedly expressed shock that a cartel of high-ranking officers could have been involved in subversive activities by diverting the Land Rovers to Mungiki, as detailed in an exclusive report on the scandal in the Daily Nation yesterday.

Senior DoD officials involved in the cartel held secret talks in the morning shortly before Dr Murungaru arrived to plan their next course of action.

A military source said: “The cartel was badly shaken when they saw the Nation had exposed the scandal. It was an open secret within the military circles and most officers are happy it has been exposed.”

Efforts to get comments from the minister and Gen Kibwana were unsuccessful because they left the DoD for a further meeting at State House.

Police have already launched investigations into how an Army cartel smuggled the Land Rovers from Kahawa Barracks on Thika Road, Nairobi, and gave them to a secret and dangerous militia which ferried Mungiki members to raids in support of one political party.

The Land Rovers were painted grey and fitted with high-tech communications equipment before being given to the gangs.

Eleven Army officers, one top official still in the Office of the President, and the security team of former President Moi are linked to the scandal, military sources said.

Details emerging yesterday indicated the Land Rovers were registered to the National Security Intelligence Service before they were taken by Mungiki.

The cartel pushed the Registrar of Motor Vehicles to register them to conceal their Army link.

A letter ordering him to do so was issued on October 25. It stated three of the Land Rovers should be registered under the name of M/s Owen Services Ltd of P.O Box 45675, Nairobi, three others for M/s Hammer Hill Ltd of P.O Box 51990, Nairobi, and the remaining four to M/s Noble Voice Ltd of P.O Box 79487, Nairobi.

Army sources said the documents and receipt numbers quoted in the letter to the Registrar were fictitious.

Documents were later to be prepared to show the vehicles had been sold through tender.

One source said: “The Land Rovers were to be used by Mungiki gangs to destabilise rivals of a political party they supported.”

He said the procedure for disposing Government property was not followed when the vehicles were given out.

“Government vehicles for sale are advertised in the media and sold by auction. There are no records to show the vehicles were auctioned,” he said.

The saga started in September when the military recalled all old and defective Land Rovers and sent them to Kahawa Barracks where they were assessed for reconditioning. After being repaired they were either to be auctioned or returned for military service.

In October, 10 Land Rovers were taken to the Kenya Vehicles Manufacturers workshop in Thika Town where they were reconditioned at a cost of Sh7 million and returned to Kahawa where they were modified, painted grey and fitted with powerful communication equipment.

They were handed to the Presidential Escort last November 6, to cover up their disposal to Mungiki.

Investigations by the CID into the scandal, at the request of State House, have so far been blocked by some senior Army officers.

Detectives recently raided the home of Mungiki leader Ndura Waruinge near Ngong Town and seized one Land Rover, registration number KAQ 134E, believed to be one of the 10 missing vehicles.

On January 10 it was reported police were looking for a military vehicle said to have been a gift to Mungiki spiritual leader Njenga Maina’s father. It was given to him just a week before the General Election during a Kanu campaign tour by President Moi.

However the self-styled Rift Valley provincial Mungiki coordinator, Mr Kimani Ruo, yesterday denied the organisation had received 10 Army Land Rovers and claimed the allegations were propaganda intended to portray the organisation as dangerous.

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