The motive behind the March 2, 2006, police raid at the Standard Group offices has remained top secret to date.
However Kumekucha today unveils the secrets behind the raid based on interviews from two of President Kibaki’s aides privy to the "Government operation."
In February 2006, President Kibaki chaired a meeting at State House, Nairobi, which was attended by the then Minister for Internal Security, Mr John Michuki, Mr Stanley Murage, Head of Civil Service Francis Muthaura, NSIS Director General Michael Gichangi, the then CID Director Joseph Kamau, among other State House operatives.
Despite the gravity of the matter under discussion, the Commissioner of police, Maj Gen Mohamed Ali, was not invited. This was purely a Nyumba ya Mumbi affair. The House of Mumbi had been rattled.
There was tension and anger in the room. The NSIS chief tabled two pieces of paper which he told the meeting had two explosive stories the Standard Group was planning to publish. This blogger has seen and read the two "articles" the Standard was alleged to be planning to publish.
The first "article" was about how Kibaki, when he was the DP chairman and was vying for presidency in 1997, allegedly travelled to Southern Sudan to meet with Al Qaeda founder and world’s Number One terrorist Osama bin Laden to solicit funds for his presidential campaign.
In the second "article", the author was discussing Kibaki’s failing health in January and February 2003, shortly after he was sworn in as president. The “article” even quoted Raila Odinga saying there was going to be a snap election within the year (implying Kibaki was dying/would be dead to warrant a snap election).
What shocked this blogger was that the person who authored the two “articles” did not have any sense of journalism. They appeared like the raw copies readers often pen and send for mailbox consideration. The “articles” were written in poor English and had no news value and had broken all rules of journalism
The two “articles” were shallow in details, short pieces and were not quoting any authority or source. They were like opinion pieces. Judging from the journalistic expertise of this blogger, those “articles” were not written by a trained journalist and no serious newspaper could publish them in that form. The “articles” were highly seditious and lacked any proof and no editor in his right mind could even consider them for publication.
According to Mr Gichangi, the two articles were leaked by an NSIS mole/agent at the Standard Group. The mole/agent claimed he downloaded the articles from their newsroom computers. This is why the police squad dismantled and took away computers from the Standard offices.
The Standard had previously published an exclusive explosive story about President Kibaki having a second wife, Mary Wambui. They had also published other stories that did not please State House.
Daily Nation, on the other side, had published an exclusive story revealing how President Kibaki had collapsed and hit his head against a staircase in State House leading to the highly publicized admission at the Nairobi Hospital during his early days as president. Then rumours hit the country that President Kibaki had been pushed off his wheel chair by his burly wife in her characteristic fury.
According to our sources, the gathering was concerned the media had "grown big horns" and State House feared they were up to no good and they could publish more damaging material unless checked. There was great concern the media frenzy was aimed at humiliating the new president and exposing him to public ridicule. The two “articles” were tabled as evidence of how the media had overstepped its mandate. President Kibaki spoke less but he endorsed the decision to raid the offices of the Standard Group to pre-empt the publication of the two “articles” and to send a strong message to other media houses. President Kibaki was made to believe Kalenjin forces were ganging up and using the media to undermine his regime. He swallowed the bait.
Those present regarded Nation Media Group as somehow pro-Kibaki. Daily Nation had also been forced to denounce their story on Kibaki collapsing and offered an apology. It was also argued that attacking NMG would be disastrous because of the influence the media giant had in the country due to the Aga Khan factor.
The Standard Group was regarded as too hostile and it was seen as the voice of former President Moi, who was then in bad books with the Kibaki regime, his son, Gideon, William Ruto, and anti-Kibaki elements. There was suspicion that the Moi family – which had hand-picked and placed in key positions staff from the Kalenjin community at the Standard Group – could have been behind the scandalous reporting.
The meeting, under President Kibaki, instructed Mr Kamau to use any means at his disposal to stop the publication of the two “articles”.
Mr Michuki and Maj Gen Ali were at loggerheads and the meeting agreed the commissioner could not be trusted with the top secret plot. There was growing pressure from a section of Kibaki’s loyalists to sack Maj Gen Ali. Maj Gen Ali, who was fighting for survival, was close to the then Standard CEO Tom Mshindi. Raila Odinga was also baying for Maj Gen Ali’s blood after police shot dead three children and a milk vendor in Kisumu during protests over the Wako draft.
Maj Gen Ali rubbed Raila the wrong way when he claimed those killed wanted to raid Kondele police station and arrogantly said he had no apology over the shootings even after evidence showed police had shot dead innocent people. Raila was demanding sacking of the commissioner. Mr Michuki said Maj Gen Ali should be kept in the dark to avoid leakage of the information. The Standard raid offered Maj Gen Ali a lifeline as he leaked secrets of the Artur brothers and Raila softened his hard-line stance for the commissioner to go.
Mr Kamau was instructed to personally handpick loyal officers to do the job and make it so lean as to avoid any leakage. The officers who were approached were first warned of the deadly assignment ahead without details. Those who developed cold feet were left out. Finally, a squad of 15 officers, mainly from the dreaded Kanga Squad, was formed and rehearsed on the mission ahead. They held regular briefings with Mr Kamau. The squad received technical support from the two Artur brothers. The Artur brothers came up with the idea of wearing hoods to cover their faces. The Artur brothers coordinated the raid on the ground on that fateful March 2nd date.
The original plot was to bomb the entire I&M Building housing the Standard Group editorial department and KTN newsroom and studio and their printing press in Industrial Area. The hooded officers developed cold feet and opted for the “softer” way they carried the operations instead of bombing the entire premises. They feared the bombing idea could bring unrest in the country.
One of our sources believe the “articles” appeared to have been authored by Dr Alfred Mutua and planted at the Standard newsroom by NSIS agents/moles. NSIS claimed the copies were downloaded from computers at Standard Group offices. This gave President Kibaki the excuse to raid the media house.
Mr Michuki later confirmed the raid was a police operation and quipped: “If you rattle a snake, you must be prepared to be bitten by it.” The snake in this case was President Kibaki.
Other articles posted earlier Today:
Kibaki and his wives: Blame lies with Kibaki only
Taabu on how Kibaki outsmarted the Kenyan media