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Rio scandal: Stephen Soi cries in court while defending himself

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Stephen Soi, the man who led Team Kenya to Rio Olympics, broke down in tears at the anti-corruption court in Nairobi on Tuesday while defending himself in the Sh88 million graft scandal.
The court session was briefly interrupted as the magistrate allowed his wife to walk to the dock to console him.
The retired police officer told Chief Magistrate Elizabeth Juma that the graft charges against him were witch-hunt and harassment of a senior citizen.
“I have served this country for 38 years and for 18 years I was a trainer of police at GSU and Kiganjo police colleges. On return from Rio de Janeiro I was surprised to be received by DCI officers. To date, I have never returned Team Kenya’s flag to the President (Uhuru Kenyatta),” said Mr Soi.
In his defence, Mr Soi denied charges of abuse of office over the siphoning off of funds meant for the athletes.

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22 years later, blast victims still crying for compensation

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Victims and survivors of the 1998 US embassy bomb blast are still waiting for justice and compensation, 22 years after the first terror attack on Kenyan soil.

Duke Rading, who lost his wife, Margaret in the blast that left 224 people dead and 5,000 others injured says they feel shortchanged by the Kenya and US government, who have kept a studious silence since the blast that changed their lives forever.

“We just hear stories that victims and survivors of the blast are going to be paid. We have never received any compensation. When people call you saying that you are lucky that you now have some compensation you feel offended,” Rading says. The only money they got was Sh200,000 to cater for the burial expenses while a petition they had logged with the government seeking compensation was not successful.

“There was a time some American lawyers took our details to file a case in the US courts. We don’t know what happened to the case,” he says. In May this year, the US supreme Court sided with families and victims of the blasts in Kenya and Tanzania, clearing the way for their lawsuit against Sudan government over its alleged support of al-Qaeda and complicity in the attacks. The victims were seeking US$ 4.3 billion in punitive damages. In June, Sudan Foreign Minister Asmaa Abdallah told Al Jazeera that they had sent a delegation to Washington to negotiate with the victims’ lawyers and officials of the US department of State about the compensation.

However, as the nation marks the 22nd anniversary of the blast today, the victims and survivors say they do not hope to benefit from this settlement as it will largely benefit employees or contractors at the US embassy. To them, the events of August 7, 1998 might be blurry and distant footnote in Kenya’s history, but the memories of their loved ones and the horrific manner in which they lost their lives is still fresh in

their minds. Rading’s wife was working as an administration officer at the Egyptian Embassy when the blast happened, marking the end of a young marriage and leaving him with two children who were seven and nine years at the time.

“My children are now grown up. The last 22 years have not been easy for us. My wife and I were complementing each other. We were servicing a mortgage and our children were in a good school. Since then life has changed. It has not been easy playing the role of a mother and a father,” he says. After 22 years, Rading says he has had to accept what happened and count his blessings with the hope that one day they will get compensation for the loss of their loved ones.

“I know families who were worse off than I was so I have learnt to keep going. We stopped pegging our hope on compensation and moved on, but we will never forget the injustice meted against us,” he says.

Same aftermath

Anisa Mwilu, who lost her husband in the blast teamed up with 50 widows and filed a case at the High Court last year to seek compensation.

Anisa Mwilu, lost her husband Abdalla Musyoka Mwilu who was working at the Cooperative Bank, adjacent to the US embassy.
PD/ COURTESY

“We haven’t given up hope for compensation because it is not fair for the government to forget us just like that. This was the first terror attack on Kenyan soil and therefore if the government intends to set aside a fund to cater for victims of such events, then we should be the first to benefit,” she says. Mwilu says the memories of the incident are still etched in her mind.

“When I saw the Beirut explosion on Television this week, it reminded me of that day. I know the events were different but the aftermath was the same,” she says.

Her husband, Abdalla Musyoka Mwilu was working at the Cooperative Bank, which was adjacent to the US embassy.

“It was the first day he was reporting back to work after he suffered a stroke and he was still not able to walk well. I had just dropped him to the office and I was driving back home when I heard the blast. I turned back and went to his office. On reaching there it was so chaotic and everyone was running around confused. I just wanted to get into his office which was on the first floor and get him out. I couldn’t because the building was on fire and police were turning people away,” she narrates. It took her five days to finally trace her husband’s body at City Mortuary after searching for him in all hospitals and mortuaries in the city.

“It was the most painful day of my life. I asked myself so many questions. I was 30 years and I was looking forward to spending the rest of our lives together. We had three children to care of and I was utterly devastated,” she says.

Mwilu says they did not get any compensation, save for the fact the US government paid school fees for her children for three months and then stopped.

For Juma Kwayera, a veteran journalist, a trip to buy a television set for his children aged five and two, turned out to be an experience he will never forget.

“I was supposed to alight at Fig Tree stage. The driver of the Matatu just refused to stop there and brought me all the way to town. I alighted at the Development House and decided to walk into the Teachers Service Commission to sort out an issue first. The first blast went off when I was standing at the traffic lights. I thought it was a robbery attempt because there were so many banks around there. When the second blast went off, I knew it was something more serious and I ran and hid under a matatu that was parked nearby,” he says.

When he emerged, part of his face had been ripped off by glass and debris.

“It was a horrific scene and everyone was running around in a daze. I noticed that flesh was dangling from my face and people were looking at me and running away. I had to compose myself and get help. I remembered that I had a doctor who was a friend working at a hospital nearby. I started running towards there. Coincidentally, I met my wife who was working at the exam council near there and she was also running for her life. The level of hysteria I saw in her eyes scared me. She identified me and walked me to the hospital. The doctors there were so afraid I was going to lose my eyesight so they struggled for six hours to save my face. There were so many people coming in so I left the hospital at midnight,” he says. Juma, who was working at a local media house, says nothing prepared him for his children’s reaction.

“My children were five and two years of age. They were looking forward to me coming home with a TV. They were surprised to see me with bandages on my face. I remember my son vowing to kill the fool who dared do this to his father,” he says. The son is Dennis Juma, a famous rugby player. Juma later underwent reconstructive surgery to restore his face.

“I am grateful that I survived the incident because I later learnt that at least 14 people, who were in a KBS bus near where I was standing, died. It would have been worse so accepted what happened and moved on,” he says.

Kwayera, however, feels sad that the only money he got as compensation from the US government was Sh30,000.

By PD

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Lifestyle

Zain Verjee rejected Uhuru’s offer to head PSCU, Itumbi alleges

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Former Senior Director of Digital Communications in State House Dennis Itumbi has detailed the behind the scenes of the post-2013 general election as President Uhuru Kenyatta sought to set up his communication team.

Itumbi, who was officially fired from the position last March, also described how he was frustrated while working at State House.

Itumbi was among five individuals who were let go in March after the Public Service Commission (PSC) scrapped five positions within the Presidential Strategic Communications Unit (PSCU) and terminated the contracts of those holding the posts.

He had worked at the house on the hill since President Kenyatta was elected in 2013.

In a series of posts he shared on his Facebook account, Itumbi sought to debunk what he termed as “lies that have been told for far too long”.

Itumbi now a critic of the Jubilee administration, started his narration from 2013 when Jubilee coalition won the highly contested presidential election.

The ardent supporter of Deputy President William Ruto claims that things were not all rosy from the onset.

According to Itumbi, the head of state after he was sworn in was looking to set up a vibrant communication team and his first choice was then CNN anchor Zain Verjee who turned down the offer and the president eventually settled on Manoah Esipisu.

“The year is 2013. We have a new President and his Deputy. The new President is putting up his communications team. He is about to let go Isaya Kabira, the question is who should take over. The New President wants Zein Verjee of CNN to take the job. She is contacted. She asks for time. She reverts with a regret message – I need to complete my studies and I have a contract extension at CNN. I cannot take up the job,” he writes.

Nairobi News could not independently authenticate his claims.

Itumbi claims it was under the new leadership that he witnessed frustrations that affected the delivery of the president’s communication team claiming that they went for a year without pay.

He claims that he coined the title Presidential Strategic Communications Unit (PSCU) for rebranding instead of the previous one Presidential Press Service (PPS) but the same was not signed off, until he approached Mr Kenyatta.

“I activated gear two and waited for the President, who signed it off. I did not go back to the duo,” he adds.

“They saw it as Breaking News on their phones as they took their stroll in the gardens.”

This he says to them was a betrayal and what followed were frustrations after another as the system was “fighting back.”

“For a whole year, avoiding the details, we worked without a salary and accessed State House only on the strength of a News Release,” he said.

Mr Esipisu has since been appointed Kenya’s High Commissioner to the United Kingdom (U.K) in 2018 with TV anchor Kanze Dena taking his position at State House.

For his part, Itumbi has found a new home in DP Ruto’s corner.

By Nairobi News

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Lifestyle

Job seeker loses phone, ID to crafty thief at Uhuru Park

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A 30-year-old police impostor who allegedly stole a desperate job seeker’s phone promising to hire him to help in making deliveries to Kenya Defence Forces was charged with theft and impersonation.

Samuel Mwaniki Murigi was accused of stealing Evans Onyango Ogutu’s phone and national ID card at Imenti House on July 23.

Murigi was also accused of impersonation after presenting himself as a police officer attached to Central Police station Nairobi to Ogutu.

Ogutu was taking a rest at Uhuru Park after a job search in and around Nairobi CBD became fruitless when Murigi sat next to him while on-call, purporting he was advising his phantom boss that he would need to hire an extra hand to help him with meeting supplies.

Murigi claimed his boss had secured a contract to supply some items to Kenya Defence Forces and desperate Ogutu approached him for the job.

The suspect reportedly told Ogutu to accompany him to Imenti House to process a pass into military facilities to begin the job immediately and he obliged.

On arrival, Murigi reportedly took the phone and the ID card to proceed with the “process” and disappeared in thin air. The matter was reported to Parliament police station.

On July 4, Ogutu spotted Murigi at the same point and informed the police. Two undercover officers arrested Murigi and allegedly found pictures of himself in different police uniforms.

The suspect denied all the charges before chief magistrate Joyce Gandani of Kibera law courts.

He was freed on a Sh200,000 bond and an alternative cash bail of Sh30,000. The case will be mentioned on August 19.

By NN

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