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The looks that landed don in trouble

Publication Date: 6/19/2008

A University of Nairobi lecturer, who had been arrested on suspicion he was the Rwanda genocide fugitive Felicien Kabuga, has resumed his normal business. Dr Charles Nyandwi, was back at the university on Tuesday and even taught mathematics classes.

When the Nation called on his office, he was with his students at one of the lecture halls at the College of Physical and Biological Sciences. It’s not difficult for a visitor to locate him at the university.

His office, at the Chiromo Campus, is unmistakable. Situated on the first floor of a block housing the School of Mathematics, office number 105 is clearly labelled — Dr C. Nyandwi. After a keener look, one will notice that a second label had recently been plucked off from the door.

Humble beginnings

Pointing on the door, he promptly explains: “There was another label here, but it was removed last month after a colleague with whom we shared this office passed away.”

There are two desks inside the office, but unlike his, the other has no files and books on it, suggesting it may no longer be in use.

Dr Nyandwi wonders why anybody would mistake him for Mr Kabuga, who he remembers as a businessman, who had risen from humble beginnings. In his own words, he may resemble Nambale MP Chris Okemo, “but not Kabuga”. “Why would anybody come for me thinking I’m Kabuga. Does it mean they will also go for Chris Okemo, who I think we have some resemblance?” asks Dr Nyandwi.

He left the Rwandan government in 1991 after 10 years, because of “eventualities” similar to what happened in Kenya at the beginning of the year. Rwandan President Juvenal Habyarimana had arrived at an agreement, to form a coalition Government with the opposition.

“I was not sacked as many have believed. Some of us (Cabinet colleagues) stepped aside to give room for the Opposition who had joined the Government,” he said. “Mr Kabuga was not even a Cabinet minister. He never sat in Cabinet meetings,” added Dr Nyandwi.

The lecturer is about 5ft tall and wears spectacles with thick glasses. The hair is short, well trimmed and can be described as white, rather than grey. Those who informed police that they had spotted Mr Kabuga relied on a photograph published in local newspapers a few years ago. The same photo is posted on the International Police (Interpol) official website as well as on that of the UN International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda.

In the photo, Mr Kabuga’s long hair forms a mound on his head and it’s not entirely grey. Mr Kabuga too is seen wearing spectacles with thick glasses. The lecturer also told the Nation that he was with his wife when police arrested him, about 300 metres away, from his house in Ole-Polos near Ngong.

“I was not at Kawangware. They took me away and held me at Gigiri Police Station and later transferred me to CID headquarters,” Dr Nyandwi said.

Interviewed him

Before police released him 24 hours later, they had also held him at two other stations including the Special Crime Prevention Unit headquarters at Milimani and at “police headquarters at Vigilance House.” He also said that “senior officers” at Vigilance House interviewed him and ordered his release.

The Nation independently established the senior officers included the police commissioner’s principal deputy Lawrence Mwadime. Police chief Maj-Gen Hussein Ali was away on holiday in Europe. Others included head of the Diplomatic Police Unit Allan Sangoro and the head of the Special Crime Prevention Unit Richard Katola.

Dr Nyandwi still holds a diplomatic passport issued to him by the Rwandan Government. It  shows, he had travelled to France, Belgium, Germany and several African countries.

Any eyebrows

As he walks around the university, he does not raise any eyebrows. It is clear the students and colleagues are used to him being around. “It was my first harsh encounter with police, not only in Kenya, but in my entire life,” said the 58-year-old don.

“My record is clean. With the Government in Kenya and Rwanda, and I got a job at the university because I’m qualified. Before 1995, I taught part-time at Nazarene University,” he added.

The Nation has learnt that police were still holding his Kenyan travel documents and mobile phones. He declined to divulge further information, saying he needed to consult with university authorities and the police.

The Nation has also established that the Tribunal and the Rwandan embassy had been aware of Mr Nyandwi’s whereabouts, but had not asked the Kenyan Government to hunt for him since he had been absolved by the Rwandan genocide investigation.

A list posted on the tribunal’s official website, as well as that Interpol, currently has 93 names of people wanted in connection with the genocide including Mr Kabuga. The don’s name had been expunged way back in 1997. He has also been the chairman of Rwandan residents in Kenya.

Normal business

Mr Kabuga, wanted in connection with the 1994 Rwandan genocide by the ICTR, has been on the run for 14 years, since the 100-day slaughter in which about 800,000 of his compatriots were killed. Mr Kabuga, a Hutu and close associate of President Juvenal Habyarimana,  owned the infamous Radio de Mille Collines that called for the mass murder of Tutsis and moderate Hutus.

Dr Nyandwi had been arrested on Friday evening and released at around 8pm on Saturday. On Monday, he returned to CID headquarters but was allowed to leave and continue his normal business, after a brief moment with detectives. Police said they had no reason to hold him because no fresh information had been received to link him to criminal activities.

Shortly before Dr Nyandwi had been released, police spokesman Eric Kiraithe said in a statement that police had acted on information that a person suspected had been sighted in Ole-Polos near Ngong in the outskirts of Nairobi.


About SG

Secretary general of Chama Cha Mwananchi. This blog www.chamachamwananchi.wordpress.com, is based in Sweden.



  1. 🙂 kabuga was my maths lecturer back in Chiromo and its sad to read what he had to go through, wish him all the best

    Posted by jesusfreak7 | February 3, 2010, 8:02 pm


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