Many thought George Ndungu Koimburi was foolhardy when he decided to run in the Juja parliamentary byelection on the little-known People Empowerment Party ticket in President Uhuru Kenyatta’s political backyard.
The party is associated with President Uhuru Kenyatta’s rebel MP in the neighbouring Gatundu South, Moses Kuria.
A former chairman of the Kiambu County Liquor Board, the MP-elect did not have it easy. At one point, he went into hiding from DCI sleuths who were reportedly looking for him over “questionable” academic papers.
No stranger to politics, the soft-spoken man’s landslide victory in the Juja parliamentary by-election on Tuesday affirmed his popularity in the president’s backyard having tried his luck in 2017 (on Farmers’ Party ticket) when he lost to the late Francis Waititu (Wakapee).
In 2017, he faulted Waititu for using government officials and machinery in his campaigns, which included dishing out bursaries and relief food.
However, this week, he upstaged the president’s candidate Susan Njeru Waititu of Jubilee Party. For Koimburi, the quest to succeed the late Waititu was a torturous three months.
“I promise to deliver to the people of Juja by ensuring services are brought closer to them. I will endeavour to ensure every resident gets essential services because as a local person, I understand the challenges faced first hand. I attribute my triumph to the PEP and Deputy President William Ruto, who held my hands,” he said.
He continued: “There was a lot of intimidation from JP but PEP and DP Ruto stood with me during the difficult moments.”
Born in Kianjoya village, Njoro, Mau Narok on May 2, 1975, as the fifth born in a family of nine siblings, Koimburi joined Kianyajora Primary School in 1983 and sat his KCPE exam in 1990.
Thereafter he joined Ekalakala Secondary in Machakos where he sat his KCSE exam in 1994.
He landed his first job in Nairobi at Plastic Rubber Industries as a casual worker for two years after which he moved for greener pastures at Kenafric Industries in Nairobi’s Industrial Area up to 2000.
He later moved to Baba Dogo where he established a milk selling business and opened more branches within the estate.
“In 2003, I moved to Juja where I started buying and selling land, a business I have maintained to date. Long before I joined politics, between 2011 and 2012 following increasing cases of insecurity in Theta, I took it upon myself to erect floodlights in the area. After this, locals requested me to venture into politics,” Koimburi told The Standard.
He ran for Theta County Assembly seat on a Narc Kenya ticket but was unsuccessful. In 2017, he went a notch higher and vied for Juja parliamentary seat on Farmers Party ticket and came second.
After losing he served as Kiambu County Liquor Licensing Board Chairman under the tenure of former Governor Ferdinand Waititu where he was in charge of the issuance of licenses to bar operators.
He also sought to ensure only legalised alcohol was sold in the county.
Koimburi said he was instrumental in the implementation of the county alcohol law geared towards curbing the sale of illicit brews while ensuring licensed traders make a profit.
In 2019, he resigned, citing frustration and highhandedness by county government operators.
After the death of Waititu in February, Koimburi declared his intention to vie in the by-election.
However, his declaration did not sit well with some of his opponents and security agencies who launched a manhunt over allegations of forgery of his academic certificates.
His opponents had a field day as he went into hiding fighting to wade off the fake credentials tag. A warrant of arrest was issued against him by a Kiambu Court for failing to appear before it on April 14 and the Officer Commanding Station for Kiambu was ordered to effect the same.
Koimburi was facing three counts of forgery; that between November and December 1994 at an unknown time and place within the Republic of Kenya, with intent to deceive, he forged a Kenya National Examination Council (KNEC) certificate purporting it to be a genuine and duly signed certificate issued by the council.
He was also accused of, between September 2011 and April 2012 with intent to deceive, forging a Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT) certificate of participation purporting to be a genuine and duly signed certificate issued by the institution.
And thirdly, he was charged that between 2011 and 2012 he allegedly forged a JKUAT academic excellence certificate.
Surprisingly, the developments came after he presented the papers to the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) for clearance to run for the seat and DCI called in.
His lawyers, Senator Irungu Kang’ata termed his predicaments as instigated by the State to stop him from vying.
Despite the pitfalls, Koimburi mounted a low but well-organized campaign amid the Covid-19 pandemic posing a threat to other candidates eying the seat.
After the campaigns began, however, Koimburi largely kept a low political profile other than announcing his move from Jubilee to Moses Kuria’s PEP.
Flying low, Koimburi quietly built up his grassroots networks during the low key campaign based on initiatives he had begun especially in slum areas of Wiethethie among other informal settlement areas.
At one time, he was stopped by a contingent of police from launching washrooms he had helped build in Wiethithie on grounds of enforcing social distance Covid-19 regulations.
Earlier in March Koimburi said his life was in danger after receiving threatening calls from anonymous phone numbers and that some people had been contracted to monitor his every move.
On April 16 an arrest warrant was issued by a Kiambu court for allegedly failing to show up in court. The Officer Commanding Station for Kiambu was ordered by the Kiambu Court to arrest and produce Koimburi in court after he failed to appear in court on April 14.
On April 20 Murang’a Senator and former Majority Chief Whip in the Senate, Irungu Kang’ata made startling claims that Koimburi was missing and blamed the government for his woes.
By then Koimburi had an arrest warrant out for him, and it was Kang’ata’s assertion that his was a case of forced disappearance as he was likely in hiding because he didn’t know what would happen to him if he was caught.
However, none of Koimburi’s relatives filed a missing person report at any police station.
Koimburi honoured the court summons and was charged with three counts of forgery which he denied and is out on bond.