Hundreds of members of the outlawed quasi-religious Mungiki sect, stormed the streets of Kenyan capital Wednesday, demanding for the immediate release of their leader, Maina Njenga, who was handed a five year jail sentence in June last year, after he was found guilty of being in possession of firearms and administering oaths.
The demonstration coincided with damaging revelations by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) that the shadowy gang held a series of meetings with senior government officials at State House, to plan revenge attacks against non-Kikuyu ethnic groups during post-election violence that broke following the disputed December 2007 election.
Sect members, mainly youth below 37 years, caused panic in the central business district, where they paralysed business activities, as security agents that were caught unawares, attempted to disperse them.
The mid-morning security scare sent residents scampering for safety, as the youth chanted slogans in support of their leader.
“No Njenga, no peace,” the youth, who carried placards chanted, displaying portraits of their leader, who headed the Mungiki militia, that was blamed for macabre killings last year and during the post-election violence.
One youth said they were holding marches through city streets to compel the government to sit down with the gang in the same manner it did with the opposition.
“On-going mediation talks mean nothing if our leader will not be released,” he said.
Police shot into the air and lobbed teargas canisters to
disperse the rampaging youth, who repulsed within minutes.
There were no casualties, although there were fears of a resurgence of violent crime and murders in the city.
According to the late afternoon report aired by the BBC, the senior members of the Mungiki militia met several times with senior government officials in the presence of President Mwai Kibaki after security forces – police, military and intelligence – appeared to take sides in the dispute in which 1,500 people were killed.
The militia group had been detailed to provide security to members of the President Kibaki’s Kikuyu tribe, the report said, alleging the opposition too had militia gangs.
In the report, some members of the militia admitted to have facilitated the ferrying of members of the outlawed gang to commit murder in Rift Valley Province, which bore the brunt of the post-election violence.
According to the report, Mungiki militiamen still roam Nakuru, the Rift Valley provincial capital, which is still under dusk-to-dawn curfew, despite the peace deal hammered between the government and the opposition. Panapress.