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Retired cop-turned-priest implicated in murder of employee

By Joseph Ndunda January 15th, 2024 5 min read

A family of a 42-year-old man allegedly killed by his employer, who is a retired senior police officer, is demanding answers from the judiciary on how a magistrate at the Kibera Law Courts reviewed orders of their counterparts and released the suspect and his two sons who are the accomplices in the murder.

The three include retired commissioner of police Michael Mbugua, who is a priest at Orthodox Church, his son Christopher Njau, and adopted son Charles Kinyanjui Mwangi.

They are suspects in the murder of George Njui, who died on December 23 last year, on suspicion of being tortured by the three inside Mr Mbugua’s home where he was accused of stealing a piece of wire mesh.

Mr Mbugua and the accomplices were arrested in Riruta on January 4, 2024, by officers from the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI).

Constable Dennis Were of Dagoretti DCI offices obtained orders from Senior Principal Magistrate Samson Temu of Kibera Law Courts to detain the suspects at the Kabete Police Station for 14 days pending investigations into the murder.

Mr Temu granted Mr Were the orders on January 5.

However, the suspects’ lawyers filed an application on January 8 as a matter of extreme urgency seeking the release of the suspects pending the determination of their petition for review of earlier orders issued by Mr Temu.

Njui’s mother, Jane Wambui, and cousin, Joseph Karanja, want the judiciary to explain how a magistrate lifted orders issued by their counterpart or issued different orders for the same matter.

The magistrate issued varied orders on January 10, releasing the three suspects on a cash bail of Sh50 000 each and an alternative bond of Sh300000 which the DCI termed as unlawful and defied, electing to stick with orders issued by Mr Temu.

Nairobi DCI commander Peter Nthiga told this writer on the phone that he ordered his officers to defy the new orders since they are unlawful, as a magistrate cannot review their peers’ orders.

“I instructed the DCIO (for Dagoretti) to defy the new orders and follow those issued earlier as only the high court can vary orders of a lower court,” Mr Nthiga said.

Mr Karanja said Mbugua had been released on Wednesday amid swirling claims that they were threatening some of the witnesses to keep off the case or move out of the area before they (suspects) were rearrested a day later.

But Mr Nthiga denied that the suspects were released and added that the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (ODPP) is dealing with the issue of the ‘unlawful orders’.

Mr Karanja claimed there is interference with investigations into the murder, pointing out a “clear” indication of a plan to deny justice to the deceased after Mr Were was transferred from the Dagoretti DCI offices.

Mr Were was transferred immediately after the orders for the release of the three suspects were received at the Kabete police station, which also houses the Dagoretti DCI offices.

Njui’s family believes that Mr Were’s transfer is part of a scheme by powerful people to ensure the three suspects are not held accountable for the murder.

The deceased’s family feels that releasing Mr Mbugua and his accomplices before placing Mr Ndung’u under witness protection is endangering his life since the suspects know he is the star witness in the murder case that they are likely to be charged with.

Mr Temu granted the custodial orders after Mr Were filed a sworn affidavit seeking more time to conduct investigations, including taking the CCTV footage to the Cybercrime Unit at the DCI headquarters for analysis and escorting the suspects for mental assessment.

The suspects’ lawyer, in their application filed three days later, argued that the application should be heard as a matter of extreme urgency since the “applicants (suspects) enjoy a presumption of innocence and there exists no reason whatsoever for their further detention”.

The lawyer added that the matter had been under active investigation since December 23, last year, before the suspects were arrested.

The application stated that the DCI had not pleaded nor adduced evidence demonstrating any compelling grounds warranting the continued detention (of the suspects) and had had more than enough time to investigate.

“This court is invited to alleviate the applicants’/accused persons’ suffering by reviewing the custodial orders issued earlier on and releasing them on reasonable terms in order to ensure that they are not condemned to a perpetual pre-trial detention,” the application reads in part.

“The applicants are willing and determined to present themselves to court as and when directed to, so that their families do not starve and so that they may salvage their reputation which has since been jeopardized by the current murder accusations.”

The lawyer stated in the application that the three suspects are “upstanding Kenyans with deep familial ties with their community,” adding that Mbugua is leading a flock of congregants and serving as an integral unit of the leadership of the Orthodox Church.

The magistrate issued orders for the suspects to be released on a cash bail of Sh50,000 and an alternative bond of Sh300000, and ordered them to appear at the Dagoretti DCI offices every day at 8am.

The magistrate set a mention date for January 17, when the case was opened to allow the office of the ODPP and DCI to respond to the new application that sired the temporary release of the suspects.

Njui was beaten to death allegedly by four men, including Mbugua, Njau and Mwangi after Mbugua accused him of stealing a piece of wire mesh at his home.

He and his brother Jacob Ndung’u worked for Mbugua as casuals.

Ndungu who had gone to check on Njui at Mbugua’s home on the fateful day, found him lying down unconscious and allegedly still being beaten by the four who were demanding that he tell them where his brother had sold the wire.

Mr Njau detained him (Ndung’u) in his compound as his brother was escorted out before he collapsed and died along Naivasha Road while the two – Njau and Mwangi were dragging him.

The two victims’ elder brother, John Mwaura, who visited Mbugua’s home offered to compensate him to allow them to rescue their brother and rush him to the hospital before he died, but the suspect allegedly declined to release Ndung’u to be a witness during the payment.

“I want him to be taken through the right procedures because the Bible says don’t kill. I heard he is a father at the (Orthodox church). I want to know the reason he did that because he would have better taken my son to the police,” Wambui said.

“We are living in fear. It is scary if someone’s son can be killed this way and the killer is known and nothing happens. It’s painful that I will never see Njui again, and it is not God that has taken him. He did not die of illness. His life was cut short by someone.”

The witnesses saw Njau and Mwangi assaulting the deceased with plastic pipes along Naivasha road while forcing him to take them where he had sold the wire estimated to be worth Sh1000. They accused him of selling it to scrap metal dealers.

Njui’s postmortem report indicated that he died of internal bleeding and fractured arms. He has since been buried at the Lang’ata public cemetery.

The DCI is planning to place Ndung’u under witness protection before the three suspects are released on bond and bail after being charged.