Dec 9, 2021

Mawazo Writing Africa

Writing about the main

Capture of escaped Kamiti terrorists a tale of courage, wit and duty

In the small village of Kamuluyuni in Nuu, the sun seems to have a special vengeance, it scorches the land from 8 a.m., spoils life and withers everything underneath.

It was Thursday morning here Musharaf Abdallah Akhuluya, Joseph Juma Odhiambo and Mohamed Ali Abikar, the three convicted terrorists who orchestrated a daring escape from the maximum security Kamiti Prison in Nairobi, decided to take a break while planning their final leap to freedom.

They had escaped arrest at every turn since leaving Kamiti and somehow made it through the hustle and bustle of the city to Machakos, on to Kitui and finally to the small town of Endau, from where the camouflage of a huge forest emerged , which stretches as far as the border with Somalia, awaited them. But hunger, thirst and the draining of the cell phone battery they used to lead them to freedom overwhelmed them and so they migrated to Kamuluyuni.

The Saturday Nation drew the last movements after the yesterday Terrorists, spent hours combing an unforgiving forest, visiting their watering holes, speaking to shocked villagers just beginning to understand the enormity of their bravery, and interviewing the hero-reservists of the National Police, three of whom most with bare hands have arrested dangerous men who will ever set foot in this country. This is their story, shaped by admirable courage and unbelievable daring.

It all started on Wednesday evening when Mr. Petero Komu Kilonzi, a local police reserve, received a call that three suspicious men had been heading from Endau Kamuluyuni spotted. Mr. Kilonzi immediately climbed into the forest with his little guard team, hoping to chase the trio under cover of darkness.

Born here 45 years ago, he has been patrolling the neighborhood every day since he was a child in 2017 as Police reservist put into service and knew every corner of the forest. That would give him a huge advantage over his goals.

“We combed the forest all night but couldn’t find her,” he said yesterday. “At around 3am we decided to stop the search and go home.”

But Mr. Kilonzi could not sleep well and ventured back into the forest early on Thursday morning and divided his team of around 15 reservists on in two groups for better efficiency. This time, however, they did not wear their government-issued uniform, but instead put on their civilian clothes to hide their identity.

Around 10:30 am, Mr. Kilonzi retired to the Kamuluyuni commercial center and jumped on his motorcycle . Then he went on his now motorized manhunt, zigzagged through narrow village lanes and interviewed everyone he met. One woman said two men came to beg for food at her homestead and that her young first grade son told her that a third man was hiding behind the fence. She had served them tired githeri , one of whom had poured into a hat and brought to the man who was hiding behind the bush.

Sleeping under a bush

It wasn’t long before Mr. Kilonzi discovered a man sleeping under a bush. He got off his motorcycle and approached the stranger, who now sat up and prepared to enter. What Mr Kilonzi did not know at the time was that he was turning to Musharaf Abdalla Akhulunga, who had been convicted of his involvement in a foiled attack on the Nairobi Parliament building in 2012.

“I applauded and asked if he needed help, ”said Mr Kilonzi. “He said he was a charcoal seller who had been dumped there by a broker and asked me if I could help him find his way to Ukasi. He also said he was too thirsty and would appreciate it if I could get him some water. ”Ukasi is a small rural town on the road between Mwingi and Garissa. It is the last frontier of sprawling Kitui County, which runs northeast.

However, at this point, Mr. Kilonzi knew he had hit the jackpot, but there was one problem: he was only interrogating one man who was three fled from Kamiti. Where were the others? Was he falling into a trap? Was this man ensnared? “I felt trapped, but now there was no going back,” he said. One of the reservists had also followed him and he said that the two of them could overwhelm the frail man who sat in front of them anyway. “So I grabbed my handcuffs and jumped up to the stranger.”

A pandemonium followed. Musharaf lunged at Mr. Kilonzi, his massive body shot through the air and hit Mr. Kilonzo in the ribs. The two fell to the ground, caught up in the struggle of their lives. Mr. Kilonzi defeated Musharaf and pushed him to the ground. His fellow reservist helped him with the handcuffs.

“He couldn’t believe it when we handcuffed him,” said Mr. Kilonzi. “The anger and anger in his eyes quickly disappeared and he began to cry. We lifted him on the motorcycle and took him to the mall. When the crowd gathered around him, we asked him to tell us who he was and he confessed that he was one of the three who had fled Kamiti and then asked us not to turn him over to the police. “

Musharaf, now devoted to his fate, asked for food and water. Mr. Kilonzi gave him a plate of chapati and beans, and then, as Musharaf was devouring the food, he started spilling the beans.

“He said the other two, Joseph Juma Odhiambo and Mohamed Ali Abikar , were also in the neighborhood and rushed away when the reservists approached, “said Mr. Kilonzi, adding that Musharaf assured them that the two would not go far because they were tired, thirsty and hungry.

The reservists, now energized by the arrest and confession, ran back into the woods and showed up a few minutes after 11am with a shaken Abikar and Odhiambo. They sat her next to Musharaf and began to interrogate her.

Read: How Kamiti Refugees Blown Their Covers

Abikar went into a frenzy. He started shaking and whining and begging to be shot instead of being taken back to Kamiti. And right there, in the small community of Kamuluyuni, in the middle of nowhere, Abikar, the terrorist who oversaw the slaughter of 148 students at Garissa University in 2014 and before his 41-year prison sentence in Kamiti. After running away for four days, he began begging for mercy.

“He said he did not want to go back and would do anything to ensure his freedom,” said Joseph Kilunda Muthoka, one of the reservists. “He told us that he had a cell phone that was lost in the woods when we were chasing him and that if we could help him find it, he would arrange for him to send us a large bribe to get her “

The reservists said the terrorists had not disclosed the amount of money they would give them, which promised to be” a whopping amount “.

” Who are You to better arrest me after my escape? Security agencies all the way from Kamiti, via Machakos and Kitui? “Abikar thundered at the reservists who had now surrounded them and desperately called for Mwingi and the nearby Nuu stations to take them away “Take the money and set us free!”

Odhiambo, who was arrested in 2019 for trying to join al-Shabaab, sat in intimidating silence the entire time, mocking the reservists every now and then, but he never said a word.

At the location of the arrest yesterday, Saturday Nation found three used water bottles and a pain reliever box. One of the bottles contained the remains of a mixture of cornmeal, sugar and water. The refugees had survived with luck, raw unga and sugar. They were all used up, and now they were at the mercy of a bunch of reservists wearing rubber boots, plastic sandals, and grim faces.

Read: Sh60m Bounty: Matiang’i Mom on Who Gets Money After Kamiti- Refugees captured

In Nairobi, Dr. Fred Matiang’i, the cabinet minister of interior, whose star has shone brightly for the past few days, the battle of his colorful career in the civil service. The escape of the three terrorists had cast a dark shadow over him as minister of lines, threatened to forfeit his credentials and overturn him on the political werewolves who roared for his blood. President Uhuru Kenyatta had given him a press conference earlier this week to hunt down the fugitives and punish those who let them.

When news spread that the terrorists had been arrested, Dr. Matiang’i assembled an inter-agency team of commandos and sent them to Kitui. Then he made his way to Kamiti, from where he had a front row view of the trial as this delicate chapter of his career came to an end.

The maximum security prison of Kamiti is an intimidating, terrifying one Address . Erected in 1955 by colonial administrators to contain the perpetrators during the state of emergency, it once stood majestic here, bordered by coffee plantations at the front and wide bushes at the back. Today, however, the semi-urban sprawl of Kahawa West is quietly gnawing at the boundaries of the prison, and from the air it is almost impossible to draw the line between the prison and the adjacent settlement.

Hordes 24 hours a day Guarded by guards, the prison appears impenetrable, and only the highly suicides would dare drive insane from within. There are two walls here; the smaller one stands on the inside, the larger one on the outside, and in its subdued threat shows the fine line between freedom and imprisonment. A prisoner trying to take a break had to climb two walls to freedom, avoiding the blinding flashes of the guards. And maybe bullets.

In a shocking confession, Abikar told police reservists that they hadn’t dug their way through the walls of their prison cells as previously claimed. Instead, they were helped by corrupt guards to stroll through the main gate.

“He said they bribed themselves and got out without much of a fight,” said Mr. Muthoka. “Then he asked us if he had managed to buy Kamiti his freedom, which led us to believe that he couldn’t afford to pay his freedom out of our grasp.”

The most dangerous criminals

Abikar’s claim that they were escorted through the main gate of Kamiti is likely to scrutinize the prison administration. While senior administrators have been arrested and could be charged Monday, this new information raises more fundamental questions about the integrity of those charged with guarding the country’s most dangerous criminals.

Read: Like the Three Kamiti – Refugees were cornered

More notably, the surveillance cameras installed in the prison somehow did not work on the day the inmates allegedly escaped. It’s hard to say, therefore, when exactly the three fled for their short-lived freedom, but the fact that they were arrested hundreds of kilometers away suggests they had enough lead time to make their way to Bonus Forest and possibly on the way to make the border with Tanzania. Abikar claimed they were going to Ethiopia rather than Boni.

While Dr. Matiang’i in Kamiti, senior police officers had the prisoners from Nuu drive through Mwingi City to a high-security facility in Kanyonyoo. along the Mwingi-Nairobi Road. From there they were flown to Kamiti in a police helicopter.

Live television broadcasts showed the police helicopter land on Kamiti, raising a cloud of dust and causing a moment of excitement among the assembled journalists and security personnel to witness what was unfolding Drama. One by one, the terrorists were escorted blindfolded and with shaky knees, either from starvation or exhaustion, to the familiar grounds of the “home” from which they had fled. Or both.

Dr. Matiang’i watched events from a distance with a mixture of relief and the sweet joy that comes with personal achievement. If he’d been awake the last few days, he didn’t see it in his eyes. Instead, he was his exuberant self, strutting across the prison fields with enthusiasm and a touch of vigor. He had done it, and now he could face the nation and assure it of its safety.

About 250 kilometers away in Kamuluyuni, the reservists of the National Police did not know the drama their gallantry had caused. Yesterday they said no one had contacted them from Nairobi. A bounty of Sh60 million was up for grabs for anyone who helped arrest the fugitives; the reservists said they were just doing their job but would not mind showing signs of appreciation. After all, the sun will burn too hot in no time.