|Jailed Mungiki leader Maina Njenga is now demanding direct talks with Prime Minister Raila Odinga.
|Mungiki members demonstrate in Nairobi to press the Government to release their leader Maina Njenga from prison early this year. Photo/CHRIS OJOW
He dismisses as “a waste of time” the secret consultations he had previously been holding with alleged emissaries from the Office of the President and Mr Odinga.
And to make sure the demands of Mungiki get the legal backing even as he serves his five-year jail term, Njenga has asked former Kabete MP Paul Muite to act for him.
Njenga spoke to the Nation last week at the Naivasha Maximum Prison, moments after he said he had hosted three people allegedly sent by the Government to begin talks with him on behalf of Mungiki.
Prison authorities ushered in the Nation team on Wednesday for an interview with the sect leader at 2pm.
“We are not seeing the face of the Government, and we feel we are not headed anywhere. That is why we urgently need the intervention of the Prime Minister,” Njenga said.
Retired provincial commissioner Cyrus Maina, Catholic priest Ndikaru wa Teresia, political activist Solomon Thande, and former Nairobi mayor Dick Waweru were at the time in the boardroom of the Prisons officer, the same venue where Njenga later took the Nation team for the interview.
The sect leader was informed of the presence of the Nation team at the main gate to the prison at 10am. He sent word that the meeting would be delayed because he already had other visitors.
Pressed to disclose the identities of the visitors, he added: “They were Mr Cyrus Maina, Father Ndikaru wa Teresia and Mr Solomon Thande. You know, I have many friends; even Dick Waweru was here today to see me, and he brought to me some bathing soap.”
The Mungiki leader had told the Nation on a previous visit that Mr Maina and Fr Ndikaru were “envoys” appointed by the Office of the President while Mr Thande was sent by Mr Odinga.
Mr Thande is the chairman of the Lang’ata Constituency Development Fund committee and a close political ally of Mr odinga, while Mr Waweru was by the time angling for the Embakasi parliamentary by-election.
“Although a number of meetings have taken place between individuals appointed by the Government and myself, a meeting between the Prime Minister himself and a small number of our representatives is necessary for a consensus on the way forward to be reached,” Njenga said.
He added: “I don’t want any more private delegations as they are spoiling the original idea brought up by the Prime Minister. The many interested parties are not representing the Government.’’
Njenga said his supporters were getting restless and needed to know the true position of the talks.
“Our issues are quite complex. Time is running out and remember I called for ceasefire to give dialogue a chance. There may come a time when the string that holds the restraint breaks off,” he added ominously.
The Mungiki now want to meet an official government team in talks composed of four representatives from each side.
Contacted on Saturday, Mr Muite confirmed that he had been asked by Mungiki to provide legal counsel in their talks with the Government. “Their leaders asked me to join them due to my stand on violation of human rights of their members. I will be in their team,” he said.
Njenga said he would also want Lands minister James Orengo, who he described as his friend and lawyer, to be in the team.
According to Mungiki spokesman Njuguna Gitau, the Government had so far met one condition; the withdrawal of police officers who had occupied Njenga’s home in Kitengela since his arrest.
Gitau says police vandalised the house, and it would have to be renovated at a cost of Sh20 million ahead of Njenga’s release from prison. The sect is also planning a major cleansing ceremony at the palatial mansion next month.
Although Njenga’s claims over his links with the Government “emissaries” have neither been independently confirmed nor denied, Mr Odinga has called for negotiations with Mungiki members.
However, conflicting signals have since been sounded by Internal Security minister George Saitoti. He told Parliament early this month that the Government will uphold the rule of the law and protect the public against militia groups.
A number of leaders, including former Defence minister Njenga Karume, and former MPs Joseph Kamotho, Norman Nyagah, Jayne Kihara, and Macharia Mukiri have also rooted for the release of Njenga to kick-start negotiations with the sect members.
They were united in condemning police killings of Mungiki suspects, saying the move would only make things worse.
However, leaders from other regions have suggested that negotiations with Mungiki, if they take place, should be extended to other militia groups in the country.
On Monday, Mr Odinga declined to comment on the matter. He described it as sensitive and beyond discussions through the media. His spokesman, Mr Salim Lone, sent a terse mobile phone text message to the Nation, indicating his boss was not keen on speaking on the issue.
Our efforts to get comments on the details of the meeting between Njenga, Fr Ndikaru, Mr Thande and Mr Waweru have not been successful