If there’s one MP whose term in the Tenth Parliament can be described as full of chilling drama, it is Mr Gitobu Imanyara (Imenti Central), he who just five days ago pushed the government to beef up his security over threats to his life and his family.
A look at some of the incidents which the fearless MP has experienced takes one back to February 2008 when he told journalists about his encounter with the First Lady, Ms Lucy Kibaki, at State House Nairobi.
Mr Imanyara was in a meeting of the small parties group. The meeting was chaired by the President. But midway, State House operatives called him out of the meeting, something which, Mr Imanyara said, was quite odd. When he stepped out, all hell broke loose.
“She jump(ed) at me and start(ed) throwing punches at me. She wasn’t wearing any shoes, she was half dressed, she was in pyjamas,” Mr Imanyara said of an incident that had happened days to the first sitting of Parliament.
He survived the legendary fury of the First Lady.
In 2009, he was in another life-threatening situation. In September, he’d gone to Libya as part of the Pan Africa Parliament delegation. The former Libyan leader Mr Muammar Gaddaffi threw a party for the MPs. When Mr Imanyara returned to his hotel room, the bizarre happened.
He gave a nail-biting account of how he was almost killed in his hotel room in Libya by an assassin “with Somali features” who forced his way into Mr Imanyara’s room on the fourth floor of a hotel.
“I actually screamed!” Mr Imanyara recounted to journalists in Nairobi after his Libyan trip.
The man, Mr Imanyara said, was carrying a black bag, and when he (Imanyara) screamed, the man ran out of the room. Mr Imanyara then followed him to the lifts, and the man, showed him a slip similar to his, and then, ran down the stairs leaving a dazed and scared Mr Imanyara with so many questions about his safety.
In November the same year, Mr Imanyara’s personal assistant also got a call asking him to stop associating with his boss.
“Tell Gitobu Imanyara that he will not go far. We are closely watching him. You are too young to associate with people whose days are numbered. He thinks he can stop Muite; do you want to start counting your days also? Stop or your family will miss you,” the text message read.
The scared aide called his boss. The boss asked him to report to the office from where they went to record a statement with the Criminal Investigation Department.
“As we were going out of the CID Headquarters, and while I was waiting for my driver outside the CID Headquarters, I received no less than seven calls, all anonymous, one of them purporting to originate from the United Arab Emirates Republic, telling me that the CID Headquarters was not going to help me, and that my days, and those of other MPs who were messing the politics of Mount Kenya region, were numbered,” Mr Imanyara told a packed House on November 24, 2009.
Of course, with the police already seized of the matter, all he could do was wait.
Deputy Speaker Farah Maalim noted the history of political assassinations in the country and asked that Mr Imanyara’s security be beefed up.
“(The chair) believes that there is a serious threat to the life of a honourable member, and goes ahead to direct the Minister responsible to give additional security, it is only fair that he goes ahead and gives that additional security,” Mr Maalim ruled.
One year later, Mr Imanyara was at it again, this time, exposing the drug barons in this country and their ills. He gave a dossier with “specific information” to the Prime Minister, Mr Raila Odinga, and asked him to get to the root of the menace.
Of course, death threats came up and Mr Imanyara asked for additional security.
There’s a hitherto unknown story of a meeting between Mr Imanyara and a journalist at a city hotel. The two had never met physically, but they had set a date to exchange information with the rendezvous at a city hotel on Koinange Street.
Unknown to them, as they made their plans, someone had tapped their phone lines. The eavesdropper noting that Mr Imanyara did not know the journalist by face, took advantage and got Mr Imanyara as he entered the joint. He got the information and disappeared.
When the journalist arrived, it was all gone.
But the shocking of them all came on Wednesday morning was when Mr Imanyara gave a detailed story of being waylaid at State House Crescent Road, forced to kneel down, “face mount Kenya” and swear a form of loyalty pledge to Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta.
He complied, but was shaken.
But even with that he was slapped three times with “large kitchen knives” and given a frightening warning: “If you do not do what I have told you, we will chop off your head and deliver it to your wife together with those of your two sons.”
“I believe there is a plot either to kill me or intimidate me into supporting a particular presidential candidate. …. a number of us were identified as the people who are not toeing the line and that we were thorns that must be removed meaning that we must be physically eliminated,” said Mr Imanyara.
A former publisher of Nairobi Law Monthly in the Kanu era, Mr Imanyara knows defiance, understands intimidation and is not one to be cowed with mere threats. At that time, he suffered the infamous suffering of the torture chambers that were located at the basement of Nyayo House.
“I have said many times and I repeat that, in the defense of the Constitution that we fought so hard for, I am willing to die, but I will not accept a situation where any Member, no matter how senior, or mighty he or she is to direct how or who I shall associate with and who or who not to support. I shall not be a party to any compartmentalization of regions of this country contrary to the Constitution. We have fought very hard to get this Constitution in place and we are obliged to defend it at all times,” said Mr Imanyara.
“Let those who think that they can intimidate others to pursue a certain political trend know that we shall not be cowed. We shall insist on enjoying all the rights guaranteed under this Constitution. We will not stop from implementing this process and allowing Kenyans to make a free choice on who to vote for and who not to vote for.”
That right there is a bold, fearless, man.