Rogue GSU officers linked to b*****s smuggling racket

Wednesday, September 22nd, 2021 22:52 | By
Car belonging to Police Inspector David Opiyo, which had been sprayed with bullets and abandoned. Photo/File

Police Inspector David Opiyo will today be arraigned in Nairobi in a case that has blown the lid off crimes committed by rogue General Service Unit (GSU) officers. 

Opiyo is expected at the Makadara Law Courts at 9am to answer four charges of being in possession of ammunition without authority, stealing government property, abuse of office and illegally being in possession of State goods.

He was arrested after he allegedly faked an abduction and the circumstances that preceded the arrest are shocking.

Police, thanks to the arrest, have unearthed a thriving bullet-selling racket involving rogue officers attached to the GSU Training School, Embakasi, a revelation that has sent shivers down the spine of security agencies. 

Some of the bullets smuggled from the institution, according to an ongoing multi-agency investigation, have been traced to such security troubled areas such as Marsabit, Isiolo and Nanyuki.

A Member of Parliament from Isiolo is also on the radar of detectives after it emerged he was to be supplied with some of the rounds of ammunition stolen from the National Police Training College Embakasi-B Campus.

Suspected consignee

Preliminary investigations reveal the 2,040 rounds of ammunition recovered last week in a garage on the Eastern Bypass in Nairobi were destined for Isiolo and detectives have since established the suspected consignee. 

On Thursday, Opiyo, attached to the training school, was arrested in connection with the cache.

Detectives handling the case are now trying to establish the link between the racket and the recent mysterious disappearances and killings of GSU officers either attached to or linked to the Embakasi Training School armoury.

A vehicle belonging to Opiyo was found with a cache of the bullets with detectives saying they also recovered his wallet and two mobile phones.

Opiyo reported that he had been carjacked by unknown people but detectives say it was all stage managed.

“The inspector left his car near the garage and left in a hurry after being tipped off to an impending ambush by an elite unit of one of the security agencies.

Witnesses have told police the suspect used to leave his vehicle at the same spot whenever he delivered “beans” (slang for bullets in the black market),” a senior officer said.

Key witnesses

Sources said detectives were trying to establish the link between the disappearance and death of at least six GSU officers, most of whom had served at the unit’s armoury, with the illegal arms trade.

GSU Commandant Douglas Kanja, however, dismissed claims that some rogue officers in the crack unit could be involved in smuggling of bullets, saying the unit had fool proof mechanisms to ensure that all ammunition supplied is accounted for.

“We conduct regular checks and counterchecking. In the event any bullet goes missing it is easy to trace the officer responsible,” he said. 

Kanja, however, said Opiyo’s case was under active investigations by the DCI.

“Probe will show how the bullets left the college and the accomplices involved,” he said.

On Tuesday last week, officers responding to a distress call along the Eastern Bypass recovered the bullets inside a vehicle, a Mitsubishi Lancer registration number KAT 887G, at a garage.

By Tuesday this week, police had recorded statements from witnesses including more than 10 officers, among them a Chief Inspector at the GSU Training Embakasi B-Company.

An officer privy to the investigations intimated to People Daily that officers guarding the Embakasi college gates and others at the GSU Magadi Training Camp would be grilled.

Investigations are also out to establish whether the shooting of Opiyo’s car, which was sprayed with more than 20 bullets was meant to execute the officer or was an attempt to destroy evidence. The car had bullet holes on the right rear door with glass windows shuttered. 

Detectives believe Opiyo, in a hurry to escape a police dragnet, left his two mobile phones and an empty wallet in the car.

He was then picked up by a Pajero car, suspected to belong to an MP from Isiolo and dropped off in Ruiru where he reported that he had been car-jacked.

“His story is not adding up at all and that is the reason we are holding him with a view to arraigning him in court,” said a senior officer based at Jogoo House, Police headquarters.

Officers at Ruai police station, where Opiyo is being detained, believe they have a water tight case against him, after recording statements from some witnesses who implicated the officer in illegal sale of bullets. 

 “One of the key witnesses has recorded a statement confirming that the officer has been meeting his clients near the garage often.

This was not the first time he had arrived at the place for his business,” said an officer.

Detectives have extended the scope of the probe that has put the 73-year-old police unit, which has for years been associated with highly trained officers and discipline, in the spotlight.

At least three GSU officers have recently disappeared without trace while three others have been killed in unclear circumstances. Kanja said the killings were under investigation.

“Some of them were, however, not working in our armouries but for those who either went missing or were killed, the matter is under investigations by DCI,” Kanja said.

On August 21, security officers recovered 2,640 rounds of ammunition, believed to be from Embakasi Training School, from a group of herders in the ongoing Laikipia operations.

Two days later, an instructor based at the school was killed in unclear circumstances a few kilometres from where the rounds of ammunition had been recovered.

The body of Corporal Joseph Maghanga was found at a quarry opposite Triple O’s Restaurant.

The body had a deep cut on the forehead. Police also recovered two mobile phones; one had several missed calls.

On July 30, another long serving GSU training school officer, Inspector Ibrahim Bonaya, was shot dead by gunmen on the Mombasa-Nairobi highway at Kyumbi.

The officer had been transferred to Masii police station in Mwala sub-county.

Man emerged

He was killed together with a friend he was travelling with, according to Machakos County Commissioner John Ondego.

“It is said our officer and two other men whom we have not identified were coming from Kyumbi where it is said they had gone for lunch.

On their way back, a vehicle which seemed to have been trailing them overtook and a man emerged from it and started shooting at them,” Ondego said.

In another incident, Sergeant Osman Ahmed Omar Godana, a former GSU officer, was abducted at around 9pm near Blue Posts Hotel in Thika.

Sgt Godana was driving in the company of his friend Abdi Todi, Todi’s sister in law, and a mother carrying her young child when a black Toyota Wish blocked him with four armed male occupants wearing bullet proof vests.

The matter was reported at Thika police station but his family members were later referred to Gatanga police station in Muranga County, OB No.27/14/9/2021.

Ironically, both the missing officer’s father and friend did not know where he was based. From the GSU, he served at Laisamis police station before he was transferred to another station.

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