Mystery surrounds the motive behind the killing of Baringo County MCA Frederick Cheretei and Tiaty parliamentary aspirant Simon Pepee soon after the latter was summoned by Jubilee Party (JP) over members’ cards.
According to his friends, Pepee had just returned from Nairobi where JP had summoned him over a complaint lodged by Tiaty MP Asman Kamama regarding distribution of party cards.
“Kamama had complained that he (Pepee) had bought most of the cards and distributed to his supporters,” said a source.
Pepee, who was appointed chairman of the National Council for Population and Development by President Uhuru Kenyatta last year, was going to face off with Kamama in the Jubilee Party primaries.
The two fell out after election of interim party officials last month, with Kamama accusing Pepee of buying out JP membership cards to distribute to his supporters.
Kamama yesterday confirmed that there were party matters, which had been raised, but said they were not linked to the killings. He said the killings on Friday night were revenge by members of the Tugen community inhabiting Arabal.
“The issue of me eliminating my opponent are pure lies and a spin by a hit squad operating in Marigat, Mochongoi and Loboi who have been targeting six leaders from Pokot community,” Kamama said.
He said Pepee had contested three times against him and he had no reason at all to organise his killing.
“It was unfortunate and we condemn the killing. I should however not be blamed or the killings misconstrued as politically linked. Why didn’t I kill him during the three times he has contested against me? I am God-fearing and I believe in people dying naturally. I was not involved and the police should investigate and ensure the perpetrators are brought to book,” said the legislator.
He said they had known within the Pokot leadership that there had been plans to kill six leaders from the community in the last three years.
“We knew plans were underway and I am among those earmarked by the hit squad for elimination. They have been meeting in Nairobi and Nakuru,” said Kamama, who added he was in Mombasa for a meeting.
The MP said, however, that he had not reported to police, despite being privy to such assassination plans.
Two masked men
Pepee and Cheretei, who is the MCA for Loyamorok Ward in East Pokot, were drinking with five others at Alfa Bar and Restaurant in Marigat near the junction to Kabarnet town when two masked men stormed in and sprayed them with bullets, killing them on the spot.
One of the attackers, according to Baringo County Commissioner Peter Okwanyo, had an AK47, while the other wielded a panga.
Okwanyo said as patrons and revellers scampered for safety, the masked men proceeded and burned the vehicles belonging to the duo.
A witness, who was among the seven in the shade, said he saw the two men walk to them and he asked his friends to take cover before shots rent the air.
“There were revellers spread all over the couple of shades within the joint and the killers came straight to where we were. I sensed danger because one of them pointed a gun towards our direction and I shouted that we lie down,” said the witness who did not want to be named.
“They knew exactly what they were doing and were not in a hurry after shooting the duo. They had time to locate their vehicles and burn them before leaving.”
Another witness said the assailant shot at the MCA two times in the head and Pepee three times in the chest and abdomen.
The witness, who also did not want to be named for his safety, said a pharmacist who was among the revellers was injured and he bled for two hours before an ambulance arrived from Chemolingot, about 80km away. The pharmacist is now recuperating in hospital.
“Police did not respond to the shootings despite a police station being only 100m away from the bar,” he said.
An investigator told The Standard on Sunday that before burning Pepee’s vehicle, the killers broke the windscreen and picked a bag whose contents they are still investigating.
He said police collected from the scene five spent cartridges as investigations continue to unravel the killers and the motive.
Pepee’s driver Musa Katurkana said he had picked his boss in Nakuru town at 7pm and made a stop-over at the bar to have dinner and attend a strategy meeting with his close allies, including the MCA, concerning his political ambitions.
Katurkana, who was yesterday left clutching at a small pack bag with his boss’s personal effects said they had been in the club from 9pm when the masked men walked into their shade at around midnight. They first shot in the air before aiming their guns at the MCA and Pepee, he said.
“We were seven all seated in the shade planning how we were going to visit residents of East Pokot today (yesterday) where we were to attend a funeral at Tirioko of a police reservist killed last week by cattle rustlers, when the gunman burst in and shot without uttering a word,” said a visibly shaken Katurkana.
The driver said when Pepee arrived in Nakuru from Nairobi, he was carrying a yellow paper bag, which he gave him to put in the vehicle.
The police confirmed that the yellow paper bag was missing after the attack. The Jubilee Party condemned the killings.
“We trust the authorities will move with speed to investigate this incident and establish who the perpetrators are together with the reasons behind this inhumane act of violence,” said JP secretary general Veronica Maina.
Following the killings, Interior CS Joseph Nkaissery yesterday convened a meeting with regional leaders. It was attended by Baringo Senator Gideon Moi, Governor Benjamin Cheboi and Speaker William Kamket.