How investigators attempted to cover up lawyer Nyakundi in son’s murder case
In a dramatic twist to one of the most riveting crime investigations in recent Kenyan history, Director of Criminal Investigations (DCI) George Kinoti has disowned a manslaughter charge against top city lawyer Assa Nyakundi, interdicted senior investigating officers, and ordered a public inquiry into what he calls a “major cover-up”, the Nation has learnt.
The inquiry has the potential of opening a Pandora ’s Box on how crooked police officers intentionally bungle cases by providing sloppy evidence and freeing suspects.
At the heart of the inquiry will be two police officers thought to have attempted to bungle the case and senior officers at the Office of Public Prosecutions who filed a weak manslaughter charge before they even got the ballistics evidence and a post-mortem report.
“Once we finish the inquiry and they are found culpable, we will charge them with conspiracy to defeat justice,” Mr Kinoti said.
Mr Nyakundi is accused of killing his last-born son, Joseph Bogonko, on March 17 this year in mysterious circumstances.
After a six-week sojourn at Nairobi Hospital “due to high blood pressure”, he was finally charged with manslaughter in a Kiambu court last week.
The court then freed him on a Sh1 million bond with a surety of a similar amount, or an alternative cash bail of Sh300,000.
He then moved from his Muthaiga North house, where he lived with his family, to stay alone at Aden Valley Apartments in Nairobi after a fallout within the family over the murder.
So bad has been the fallout that Mr Nyakundi’s wife Lydia Kunga and eldest son Noah Onsomu have been listed among key witnesses in the case.
They also decided to bury Bogonko at the Lang’ata cemetery in Nairobi rather than Mr Nyakundi’s rural home as dictated by Abagusii customs. Mr Nyakundi skipped the emotional ceremony.
Police records indicate that a fist-fight almost occurred at the Aga Khan Hospital on the day the deceased’s body was taken there.
Relatives allegedly attempted to attack the lawyer and he “escaped towards the main gate”, where he was apprehended by onlookers and handed over to the police.
But it was police failure to arraign him for over six weeks that caught the public attention.
Mr Nyakundi spent time at the city hospital after he told police that he was suffering from high blood pressure and was diabetic.
Director of Public Prosecutions Noordin Haji and Mr Kinoti are said to have been embarrassed by the manslaughter charge and want to recall the charge sheet. The hearing had been set for June 20.
“This is one of those cases I was not briefed at all by my officers,” said Mr Kinoti on Tuesday. “I only heard of the manslaughter charge from the media. Even the DPP was horrified.”
The file in the Kiambu court does not include scene of crime photographs, a scene of crime analysis report, and a ballistics report, which Mr Kinoti says were “intentionally” left out.
“We took somebody to court and charged him with no investigations reports at all,” said Mr Kinoti.
Mr Haji on Tuesday confirmed the intention to withdraw the case.
Police have reconstructed the last days of the deceased and are hoping to unravel what happened after Bogonko, 29, and his father left International Christian Centre on Mombasa Road.
On that day, Mr Nyakundi, his wife and Bogonko had left their Muthaiga North house in a Toyota Axio, which was driven by Bogonko.
Witness statements say that Mr Nyakundi then placed his pistol, loaded with 14 bullets, under the co-driver’s seat since he could not be allowed into the church while armed.
Surveillance footage from the church shows that after Bogonko dropped his parents, he went to look for parking.
The church service ended at 12.10pm and Ms Kunga called her son to bring the car.
But Ms Kunga, being an usher in church, was requested by two friends to accompany them to Mater Hospital to visit a sick child.
The son allowed the father to drive and he took the back seat, unaware that his mother was not going back home with them.
Cameras along Uhuru Highway capture Mr Nyakundi driving towards Museum Hill.
Mr Nyakundi later told the police that as they approached Muthaiga North Road, and a few meters from their home, he stretched his left hand to reach for his firearm but in the process “the firearm holster got stuck”.
He still managed to pull out the firearm without the holster, he said.
He claimed that it then discharged a single bullet, a version that senior detectives and ballistic experts have dismissed in a report set to be filed in court.
Shortly after he shot his son, Mr Nyakundi called his wife and said “there has been an incident with Bogonko and his gun went off”.
Nurses at the hospital say that Bogonko was dead by the time he was taken to the hospital and was categorised as a medical legal incident which required police attention.
By this time, Mr Nyakundi had left the casualty area and was sitting on concrete slabs at the parking yard of Aga Khan University Hospital.
When asked by the hospital security if he was armed, “he gave out three conflicting statements, uttering that he might have thrown it somewhere on the way, or might be somewhere in the car or in the house,” according to police records.
A day before he died, Bogonko had apparently collided with his father after he bumped into another car on Thika Road with his father’s Toyota Lexus.
Mr Nyakundi is presumed to be innocent and has so far not been convicted of any offence.