Members of the controversial Mungiki sect yesterday escaped a a police dragnet and held initiation rituals in Nairobi.
The sect members held baptismal ceremonies in the wee hours of the morning and a prayer session before police caught with them.
A contingent of police from the Kasarani Police Station in riot gear arrived at Mwiki to find the ceremonies over.
The adherents went to Manguyu Dam in the Githurai/Kimbo area and held baptismal ceremonies and then left for Mwiki, several kilometres away.
By the time the police arrived in the Mwiki area, the sect members had performed their prayers and recruitment drive.
Sources said the rituals included baptism by immersion in water, starting at 3am and by 6am all the potential converts present had been inducted.
Tension was high in the bustling Githurai/ Kimbo area as police, armed with guns, tear gas and rungus patrolled the vicinity.
After dispersing, the sect members melted into the crowd, with most heading towards Dandora.
Police had described the ceremony as illegal, saying it was unlicensed.
Tipping the Nation off about the ceremony, the sect leader, Ndura Waruinge, had expressed fears that the police might disperse them.
Two weeks ago the sect members and police battled with the police after the law enforcers dispersed their meeting.
During the skirmishes at Githurai/Roy sambu area, three adherents were arrested while 20 were injured.
A human rights lawyer yesterday defended the Mungiki sect and called on the registrar of societies to register it immediately.
Mr Mirugi Kariuki said Mungiki's existence was no threat to national security.
Addressing a press conference in Nakuru town, the lawyer said Kenya is a secular society and Mungiki's fundamental rights as enshrined in the Constitution must be respected.
"Mungiki's rights, including freedom of worship, expression and association, must be respected however outrageous and foolish some people might perceive it to be," said Mr Kariuki.
At the same time, the lawyer said it was wrong to criminalise the sect, saying "it does not matter whom you worship because the god of one religious group might turn out to be the devil of another".
Mr Kariuki appealed to Kenyans to be tolerant and respect the right of other religions to exist, whether they agree with them or not. He said the law should be the ultimate judge and not interested societies or individuals.
He protested the frequent arrests of Mungiki members as unjust, saying the police should leave the sect alone as long as it observes the law.
Police, said the lawyer should not be influenced by the political utterances which were aimed at vilifying the sect without been given a chance to defend themselves.
Mr Mirugi said that the sect group should not be harassed and if they break the law they should be charged in a court.
Nairobi - Two Mungiki sect members who were forcibly removed from hospital last week are recuperating in the at King'ong'o Prison's dispensary, Nyeri.
The dispensary offers Mr. Peter Nyamu and Mr. Wanjama Mwangi pain- killers for the gunshot wounds they suffered, though they need specialised treatment, a prison source told the Nation yesterday. The source added that the dispensary has no beds. The suspects sleep on mats, he said.
The two were forcibly removed from the Nyeri Provincial General Hospital on Wednesday, where they were admitted after they were shot by police for allegedly raiding the Nyahururu Police Station.
Mr. Nyamu was shot on one ear and the bullet penetrated one of his cheeks, tearing it apart. Mr. Mwangi has a deep wound on one of his legs and he cannot walk.
Police removed them from hospital allegedly because they feared that the sect's members would raid it and take them away.
Yesterday, the Nation established that apart from pain-killers, the two suspects in remand are receiving first aid.
Their relatives are not allowed to see them.
Prison sources said if relatives and other sect members were allowed to have access to them, they could raid the prison.
Meanwhile, members of the Release Political Prisoners (RPP) lobby have protested at the action by prison officers in Nyeri.
RPP programme officer Gitau Wanguthi said the removal of the suspects should be treated like abduction.
Elsewhere, concern has been raised over the increasing number of Mungiki sect adherents.
Non-governmental organisations, under the auspices of the Peace and Development Network of the National Council of NGOs (PeaceNet), said the insecurity posed by cattle rustlers and groups like Mungiki and the Jeshi la Mzee militia should not be taken lightly.
"This is a manifestation of worse things to come," the NGOs said on Friday.
In a statement released after a meeting in Molo, the network of more than 150 organisations attributed the rising conflicts in parts of the country to poverty and an unfair land tenure system.
The NGOs urged the government to stop the killing and displacement of people wrought by cattle rustling and banditry. The State, they added, should develop a comprehensive land policy to address the squatter problem, land disputes, unfair allocation and utilisation.
In Nakuru, Kanu leaders yesterday urged the government to investigate the Mungiki sect so that Kenyans know about it.
They claimed that the sect's intention was to destabilise the country.
Led by Nakuru deputy mayor Samuel Toweet, the leaders said the sect's recent actions showed that it did not recognise the rule of law.
Mr. Toweet who led three other civic leaders John Ng'eno, Kipsomaniant Ngetich and Alice Bommet said the activities of the sect were raising concern to most Kenyans and that the group had other ulterior motives.
They alleged that the group was a tribal militia bent on fanning tribal hatred and animosity among citizens.
Watching millennial and apocalyptic cults in the year 2000 - Index Page
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