Slain Meru University student’s leader Evans Njoroge was reportedly killed by a well-known, tall, brawny and limping cop who is yet to be arrested
The killing is claimed to the culmination of several attempts to silence students protesting over exorbitant fees and misappropriation of funds running into tens of millions.
Njoroge alias Kidero is said to have been murdered by the Administration Police (AP) cop on February 27 after he and the chairman of the university’s students association Wangila Wabomba, led a protest outside the varsity gates along the Meru-Maua Road.
The demo was disrupted by police and during the ensuing melee, Wabomba fled towards Mau. Njoroge was pursued and shot in the head as colleagues and locals watched. The shooting is said to have taken place at a home at Karabe village, about 1.5 kilometres from the university.
The post-mortem by chief government pathologist Dr Johansen Oduor, who was assisted by Dr Moses Njue, the Meru Level 5 Hospital pathologist, Dr Scholastica Kimani and two other doctors, revealed that the student was executed with a pistol shot at close range.
“The pistol was placed on back of his head, the bullet tore through his head and exited from the left ear, fracturing his skull and damaging his brain,” said Dr Njue.
Both Nchiru AP camp and Police Station are located on the university’s 680 acres of land and thus officers there reportedly get instructions from the university’s authorities sometimes.
Deputy Inspector-General in-charge of AP Noor Gabow kept off the matter, while acting VC Prof Charity Gichuki did not respond to our texts on allegations of funds embezzlement, bullying of students and the sidelining of the slain student’s family.
In mid-February, Njoroge said he was assaulted at the police station in a video clip that went viral after his release. In the clip, he warns the university’s vice chancellor Prof Japhet Magambo (who has since been sent on terminal leave by Education CS Amina Mohamed following the shooting) to step down.
“Magambo should read the writing on the wall. His time of embezzling student money has come to an end. He must leave.” Njoroge warned.
Five days before his fatal shooting, Njoroge claimed that he bumped into a senior varsity staff and security officer at Junction Centre where he lived. He suspected that they were monitoring his movements, even though the staff claimed they were just driving around.
There were claims that the students’ leader was also being trailed by unidentified men in a Probox. He even changed his phone number because of it. Peter Njoroge, his father, says his only son in a family of seven had expressed fear for his life, saying he was being monitored by people he suspected to be police officers.
On the morning he was killed, Njoroge, in the company of a colleague, was summoned by an AP officer at the university’s gate.
“The uniformed officer drove a pick-up to where we stood and beckoned us, but we did not heed his orders and instead ran away. The officer then sped away,” the student told The Nairobian.
After the protesting students were dispersed, two cops reportedly tracked Njoroge to Karabe village, which is a kilometre away from the Chuka-Meru highway. Less than two minutes later, Njoroge was dead, shot by a police bullet in the head, at point-blank range. The perpetrators were nowhere in sight.
Purity Limiri, whose home Njoroge was hiding in, says more than 30 students ran into her farm to escape the police and before she could figure out what was happening, a Toyota Land Cruiser pick-up belonging to the AP drove into her compound, reversed and the driver jumped out brandishing an AK-47 rifle. She says the driver rushed into his farm leaving his colleague in the car.
Purity who is now scared for her life says that moments later, the quiet surroundings of the farm was shattered by a loud gunshot. Apparently, the armed cop ambushed Njoroge and his colleagues as they were walking back to the road thinking the police had driven away.
Farmers nearby say Njoroge was dragged, forced to kneel before being shot in the head.
“The officer came back and removed his shirt, revealing a white T-shirt he wore underneath the shirt. He then to the road through a nearby farm and entered my compound through the main gate, before they drove off at high speed,” Purity recalls.
Wabomba told The Nairobian that “after killing Njoroge they (cops) drove to my house but I was hiding in Maua town. They abandoned his body on the scene until 7pm, probably hoping that I would come out to investigate what had happened and kill me too. I was sneaked to Nairobi at night as they continued hunting me, even threatening some students with dire consequences if they did not reveal my hideout.”
After the student’s death, the university was accused of side-lining his family and failing to join other mourners in the burial preparations. Some staff however gave their contributions in secret. Police were also reportedly ordered to prohibit students from conducting a church service at a nearby Methodist church on March 3.
It seems that Njoroge and Wabomba were marked men. As leaders of the student fraternity, they questioned what the student body considered unjustified fee increment that some say raked in over Sh10 million a year.
Sources indicate that the new fee structure was introduced in 2015, and arbitrary increment in fees apparently now amounts to Sh70 million annually. How the money was spent is another sticking point that brought the students and the administration to a head.
The Joint Admissions Board (JAB) recommended annual fees in public universities is Sh33,700, but Meru University reportedly charges Sh45,000 and Sh79,000 for nursing students without explanation.
“Why should we pay nearly double the fee charged by other public universities? The fee structure is set by JAB, so our institution does not have the authority to revise it upwards. This extra income has not been put into any conspicuous use. It was misappropriated and when we questioned this, we were perceived as enemies of the institution,” claims Wabomba.
The institution with its two campuses in Meru County has about 6,000 students. Four hundred students who are in their fourth year are however exempt from the higher fees, while 800 are on the parallel programme.
The extra monies paid is about Sh15,000 per student, which works out to Sh72 million in a year. In addition, Sh3 million is collected annually as payment for the students’ association affairs, though officials of the association say only Sh900,000 is budgeted for.
In November 2017, Prof Magambo promised to reduced fees by Sh8,500. The students welcomed the announcement, even though they were not fully satisfied.
But they claim that the VC took them for a ride and only cut fees by a measly Sh500, and only for fresh students. That’s what fuelled the unrest and protests at the university this year.