Kroll Report Awakes Ouko Ghost
Kroll Report Analysis Part I
Nearly one week after the publication of PROJECT KTM – Consolidated Report (commonly referred to as the Kroll Report) dated 27 April 2004, save for Nicholas Biwott and Gideon Moi, none of the prominent personalities mentioned therein have come out to openly deny its contents.
Lee Njiru, a former Head of the Presidential Press service and who currently acts as former President Moi’s Press Secretary has not called any press conferences at Kabarnet Gardens nor has he sent any press statements to media houses as he usually does when any issue adversely touching on the former Head of State is published. Moi’s lawyer Mutula Kilonzo has also given the Kroll Report a wide berth. What is going on?
It is obvious the main media in Kenya will avoid analysing this report, partly because Government of Kenya has disowned it and secondly because those adversely mentioned directly or indirectly own the local media. The Kroll report is sensitive in many respects and more so because it may have far reaching implications in an election year. This blog will carry weekly excerpts from the leaked report and attempt to connect them to Kenya’s political, social and economic history.
Today, we look at a Mr. Danny Vardi who is described in the report as a ‘business associate’ of former Cabinet Minister Nicholas Biwott:
Page 54 of the leaked Kroll Report says of Danny Vardi:
An Israeli National, Danny Vardi is a former Israeli Defence Force Commander who is related to Zeevi through married but apparently dislikes him intensely. It has been reported that Vardi was used to assassinate witnesses in the Ouko case and was involved in instigating ethnic clashes in 1992.
Vardi is an advisor to the Israeli Government of natual gas projects.
Corporate record searches indicate that Vardi is an executive of Biwott’s company, Ziba Management Services Ltd.
Any one who has served as a police officer at Vigilance House (Kenya Police Headquarters) in the last 15 years will tell you that the most ‘difficult’ of all political assassinations in Kenya’s history is that of former Foreign Affairs minister Robert John Ouko. Even more mysterious are the deaths and misfortune that seem to track most of those who have previously been connected to any attempts to find out how Dr Ouko was killed so as to apprehend the killers.
Pic: Current President Kibaki, and Nicholas Biwott behind him, view what had remained of Dr. Ouko.
At least 14 high-profile witnesses and former associates who either testified in previous inquiries or held top jobs within that period have died. Could it be the work of Mr. Danny Vardi?
Prominent personalities who have dies include:-
- Hezekiah Oyugi – former powerful Permanent Secretary
- Philip Kilonzo – former Police Commissioner
- Justice Fidahussein Abdallah
- Nehemiah Obati – former Policeman Nyanza Province
- Joseph Mbogo – former Policeman
- Mohammed Aslam – Banker
By far the most serious attempt to solve the Ouko murder was the Judicial Commission of Inquiry appointed by President Moi in 1990.
Many of the dead were key witnesses or were about to give evidence at the Ouko Inquiry, leading some to talk of “a curse of sorts”. And as if he had had a premonition of the way things would develop, Dr Oko Ooko Ombaka, a former Gem MP and alwyer at the commission, said in 1991: “The incumbent government is implicated. It is in control of evidence. Now, should it appear to it that it is losing, it may destroy that evidence … people may die, memories may fail.” On November 25, 1995, Dr. Oki Ombaka, a former rugby player, was struck by a mysterious illness and after a long stint in hospital locally and abroad, he was discharged but had by then lost his sight. Oki died seven years later, in July 2002. His wife and lawyer, Katini Ombaka has since also died of an undisclosed ailment.
Hezekiah Oyugi, a former Permanent Secretary in the Office of the President in charge of Internal Security, had been named as a principal suspect by Supt John Troon of the New Scotland Yard. Four days before he was to testify at the inquiry, President Moi disbanded it. Mr Oyugi was then arrested and later released without any charges. In June, 1992, six months after his release, he was admitted to the Nairobi Hospital suffering from an illness of the nervous system. He was flown to a hospital where he died on August 8, 1992.
Another victim of what some call the “Ouko curse” was veteran politician Masinde Muliro. A day before Oyugi’s body was flown back home, Muliro travelled to London and reportedly met a former police officer, Mr George Wajackoyah, who claimed to have useful information on Dr Ouko’s death. On his return to Kenya, on 14th August, Mr Muliro, then a leading light of the opposition Forum for the Restoration of Democracy (FORD) party, collapsed and died on arrival at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport
Mohammed Aslam, Chairman of Pan African Group of Companies, had featured in allegations made before the Commission of Inquiry about corruption. But before he could testify, he was admitted to the Nairobi Hospital and died two days later.
High Court Judge Fidahussein Abdullah died on 18/Nov/1992, before the could deliver judgment in a case in which former Nakuru DC Jonah Anguka was charged with the murder of Dr Ouko. Mr Anguka was arrested and charged with the murder after the commission was dissolved. Anguka was later released and published a book about his trial and tribulations.
Oidho Agalo was a son of Zablon Agalo Obonyo, the administration police guard who was attached to the Koru home of Dr Ouko. Oidho was a farm-hand at Dr Ouko’s farm. He was living with his father at the farm on February 12 and 13, 1990, and therefore was an important witness. He died quietly at Nyalenda Estate in Kisumu, and with his death possible vital information on the Ouko murder mystery was lost. There were no explanations as to the cause of his death.
Otieno Gor was among the people who saw the Minister just hours before he disappeared. Gor also died mysteriously.
Martin Ochanda was attached to the Kisumu Special Branch office and was a friend of Dr Ouko. After his death, Ochanda was transferred to Nairobi. In December 1991, he became sick and was admitted to the Armed Forces Hospital in Nairobi where he died a few days later “after a short illness”.
Pius Omollo Ngwaye was Jonah Anguka’s personal bodyguard for nearly five years. Soon after Anguka’s arrest, Omollo, too, was arrested and detained by police. Anguka says in his book, that while undergoing interrogation at the CID headquarters in Nairobi, he met Omollo there. Anguka describes Omollo’s shape as “deplorable, with blood-red eyes and trembling”. A Policeman, Kenneth Mathenge, the person who recorded Anguka’s statement, blocked Anguka’s attempts to talk to Omollo. That was the last time Anguka says he saw Omollo alive. He was later released, but only to be admitted to a hospital in Nakuru, where he died soon after. The cause of his death has never been established.
Joseph Otieno Yogo was Dr Ouko’s driver-cum-security guard. He drove Dr Ouko from Nairobi to Kisumu on February 5 and later returned to Nairobi to fetch Mrs Ouko and both went to Koru on February 9 in her vehicle. On February 12 Yogo used the same vehicle to drive Mrs Ouko back to Nairobi, leaving the Minister alone in Koru. He was later a key witness at the Commission.
In late 1992, he was admitted to Mater Misericodaire Hospital in Nairobi. He died a few days later of what was reported to have been a “short illness”.
Joseph Mbogo, a Superintendant of Police who participated in the Ouko investigation and later joined the Commission of Inquiry, died mysteriously and was quietly buried in 1993.
Paul Shikuku was the herds boy who allegedly found Dr Ouko’s charred and mutilated remains burning at the foot of Got Alila Hills. He was listed as a key prosecution witness former Nakuru DC Jona Anguka’s trials. In both cases the Deputy Public Prosecutor, Bernard Chunga, failed to present him as a witness, claiming the police could not trace him. In his book ‘ABSOLUTE POWER’, Anguka questions; Is it feasible that with all the vast resources at their disposal, the police could not trace Shikuku during the two trials or did Shikuku also joined the ranks of the silent Ouko murder witnesses?
Another victim is, James Eric Onyango, a relative and confidant of the late Minister, and who was among the people Dr Ouko talked to on the telephone on the night he disappeared, also died. The cause of his death remains a mystery. The Oukos house-help Selina Were, a most charming witness at the Gicheru commission, is said to live in the suburbs of Kisumu.