Kenyatta’s Secretary Who Was Assassinated a Day After Surviving Bomb

Kenyatta's Secretary Who Was Assassinated a Day After Surviving Bomb

Of all the assassinations that happened during Mzee Jomo Kenyatta‘s regime, Josiah Mwangi Kariuki‘s (JM) was the most intricate. He survived a bombing but was killed the next day in March 1975. 

Nation reported that the first person to alert JM of the price on his head was fellow Cabinet colleague and namesake GG Kariuki, who told him a strategy was already in place to murder him and advised that he seeks an audience with Kenyatta before the worst happened. 

One of JM’s proclamations that had irritated the politician’s enemies was “Kenya had become a country of 10 millionaires and 10 million beggars!”

An undated photo of JM Kariuki

He reached out to former Minister Njenga Karume who had the president’s ear. Even as such, Karume was careful not to be seen cosying up to a dead man walking. 

The meeting happened after they both pretended to be driving from different directions on the Nairobi-Nakuru Highway and accidentally bumped into each other at a petrol station near Naivasha town.

There, JM opened up to Karume and requested that he arranges an urgent meeting with the President. Karume agreed but time wasn’t on their side.

After JM’s doctor observed that the politician’s stress level had shot up, he advised him to go to Mombasa and cool off. 

His friend Elizabeth Koinange anonymously booked two tickets for her and JM to travel down to the coast as he waited for an audience with the president. 

On the day they were supposed to travel, another of JM’s friend disclosed to the politician that he was being secretly followed and his phone monitored, therefore he should not travel to Mombasa.

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He agreed and shelved the plan. Moments after, the OTC bus he was to travel in left Nairobi and a bomb exploded inside killing 27 of the passengers.

JM must have thought that he had survived an assassination attempt but unknown to him, he was kidnapped tortured and eventually killed and dumped at Ngong’ Forest, all within 48 hours of the bomb explosion. 

10 days after he went missing, a mysterious caller reached out to one of JM’s wives, Terry Kariuki, and asked: “Have you checked whether your husband is lying in the morgue?”

The caller was told the family had twice been to the Nairobi City Mortuary. The caller responded, “Just check again!” and disconnected the phone.

She gathered her co-wives and together they went to the morgue and confirmed that indeed, JM was dead. 

From the mortuary, the three widows headed to Parliament Buildings and straight to the lounge where they screamed: “They have killed our husband JM!” sending the National Assembly into chaos. 

When then Vice-President Daniel arap Moi sought to cool tempers, his voice was drowned with shouts of: “Shut up liar! You’re a government of murderers!”

Sensing danger, the VP and Cabinet ministers in the House hurriedly walked out, removed flags from their official vehicles and sped home. To date, JM’s killers have never been unearthed. 

An undated photo of JM Kariuki


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