In the buildup to the 2022 General Election, President William Ruto who was at the time a presidential candidate, promised Kenyans that his administration would put an end to extrajudicial killings and mysterious disappearances that he associated with the Uhuru Kenyatta regime.
One of his first acts as president was to disband the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI)’s Special Service Unit (SSU), citing that the team had gone rogue and turned into cold-blooded killers which he argued was against the country’s national security interests.
However, 16 months later, that promise seems like a mirage since disappearances, kidnappings and cases of persons vanishing without a trace have resurfaced.
This has triggered hot debate on whether the Kenya Kwanza government has reverted to the same old clandestine security operations it condemned and whether the abductions are state-sanctioned.
A photo of sugar tycoon Jaswant Singh Rai.
Kenyans.co.ke takes a look at the most high-profile abductions that took place over the year.
The billionaire businessman is no stranger in the public eye.
He is an industrialist with interests spanning various sectors including the sugar, timber, and real estate sectors.
In August, the billionaire made headlines after a CCTV footage emerged online showing two men accosting and bundling him into a vehicle in broad daylight at a traffic light junction in Kilimani, Nairobi.
The incident was condemned by the Law Society of Kenya (LSK) which accused law enforcement agencies of being behind the abduction.
Shortly after that, President William Ruto warned the billionaire, accusing him of exploiting sugar farmers in Western Kenya in what has now become the infamous “mambo ni matatu” jibe.
This, however, did not sit well with observers who questioned whether the abduction was political blackmail designed to get the tycoon to drop the case he had filed in court over the leasing of the Mumias Sugar Company.
Nonetheless, 24 hours after his abduction, the billionaire’s lawyer Kioko Kilukumi confirmed his release. He, however, did not provide more details on the incident.
Ann Njeri Njoroge
Ann Njeri Njoroge was thrust into the limelight following her mysterious disappearance shortly after recording a statement at the DCI headquarters along Kiambu Road.
The businesswoman claimed that senior government officials were trying to steal a Ksh17 billion fuel consignment belonging to her.
The plot thickened further when Energy Cabinet Secretary Davis Chirchir went on record, stating that the fuel consignment belonged to Galana Energies Limited – one of the companies handpicked by the State to import fuel under the government to government oil deal agreed with 2 Gulf firms.
Five days after her disappearance, Njeri would later resurface in Mombasa in the company of her lawyer, Cliff Ombeta.
While addressing the media, Njeri claimed that she received death threats from her abductors who wanted her to, in her account, coerce her into publicly declaring that the consignment belonged to another entity.
Njoroge stated that she stood her ground, maintaining that she was the legitimate owner of the consignment.
During the interview, Njoroge claimed that her abductors later dumped her at Karura forest.
Lawyer Ombeta questioned why the government was interested in the consignment and abusing its powers to frustrate Njoroge.
Following the incident, Members of Parliament (MPs) invited Njoroge to clear the air over the confusion.
She, however, snubbed the invite, with her lawyer claiming that she was ill. The lawyer also stated that Njoroge was fearing for her life and was in hiding.
In September, Former Mungiki Leader Maina Njenga was allegedly abducted by unknown people in Kiambu town.
Reports indicated that he was kidnapped from his vehicle at around 10:00 pm, shortly after visiting a friend in Banana, Kiambu County.
His lawyer Ndegwa Njiru later claimed that the abductors were police officers driving Subarus with South Sudanese registration plates.
A day later, the lawyer confirmed that Njenga had been released by his abductors but remained tight-lipped on the finer details.
Lawyer Njiru claimed that the abduction was politically motivated adding that the government was frustrating Njenga ahead of his trial in which the political operative had been charged with planning anti-government protests earlier in the year.
Three months earlier, Njenga had a run-in with law enforcement officers after police raided his three homes in Nairobi, Nakuru, and Laikipia Counties.
Ex-Mungiki leader Maina Njenga was escorted by police officers at the Nakuru Law Courts on Wednesday, May 24, 2023.
In November, reports of former South C MCA Osman Khalif’s disappearance came into light.
Khalif’s family told journalists that their kin, who works as Nairobi Governor Johnson Sakaja’s aide, was abducted at a Nairobi Mall in front of his wife by five armed men.
Two weeks later, Khalif resurfaced after being released by his captors.
Khalif, who appeared to be in great shape as he visited lawyer Ahmednassir Abdullahi claimed that his abductors tortured him on the instructions of a rival politician.
Ahmednasir questioned why the trend of Kenyans vanishing had crept back in, calling for President William Ruto to address the matter.