Why Rodgers Mbithi is Just a Convenient Scapegoat after Garissa Attack Failures

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Garissa attack happened a day just after the President lashed out at those he called “makaburus” whose only crime was that they so religiously and loyally informed their citizens of what and who to expect while travelling to Kenya. State House was so annoyed with the alerts since they were “negative” and influenced the decision of most Westerners to come or not come to Kenya for any business.

Focus has been, for the past week, almost solely on Kenya Police Airwing commandant, Rogders Mbithi. He has been blamed for, among other things, taking his family for a picnic on a Kenya Police plane while Kenyans were being butchered in Garissa.

According to security officers attached to National Disaster Operations centre, Col rtd Mbithi is wrongly blamed for the Garissa Attack mess. Mbithi was did not know what kind of attack was happening in Garissa until after 8AM when the Cessna Grand Caravan 208B had already left for Mombasa for a scheduled training flight.

The fixed wing plane with registration 5Y-POL left Wilson for Mombasa at 7:26AM and arrived at 9:17AM. While departing for Mombasa, Col Mbithi requested the crew to give a lift to his daughter-in-law who was travelling from Mombasa. The commandant is authorised to allow such civilians to fly in the police helicopters unless advised otherwise by the crew flying the plane.

A plane is a transport vessel just like a wheelbarrow, car, ship or train. Once in a while we get to have those we love have a ride.

The Kenya Police Service standing orders (reviewed in 2009) clearly states;

The carriage of civilians or relatives of Aiwing Officers is prohibited except with the express permission of Formation/Provincial Commanders, or Commandant Air Wing

On landing in Mombasa, the crew briefed their commandant as required and sought clearance to fly back to Wilson airport after the mandatory 20 minutes ground time. They departed Mombasa at 9:49AM and landed at Wilson Airport at 11:36AM. The crew were ordered to fly the GSU Recce commandos to Garissa.

The Recce team did not arrive at Wilson until after 12PM. The plane departed for Garissa at 12:18PM in the 5Y-GSU and 5y-POL respectively, which are both Cessna Grand Caravan 208B. The commandos landed in Garissa at 1:43PM and 1:55PM respectively.

But the GSU Recce team did not enter the university premises until after 5pm as they were said to be rehearsing for the onslaught. The team also witnessed infighting between them and the military who refused to withdraw or advance against the killer terror squad.

But the sources within the Recce team are questioning why they were not deployed in team. The late deployment meant that they entered the university in the evening risking the life of their colleagues and eventually losing Corporal Benard Tonui. He was blown after he grabbed one of the terrorists. His lower torso was completely shattered.

The team say that they should have been flown in the many army choppers as that would have enabled them to land even inside the university as the army choppers are armored unlike the Kenya Forest Service and Kenya Wildlife Service choppers which are civilian choppers and not meant for military operations.

The team wonder why the army choppers were availed during the death of Fidel Odinga but they couldn’t be availed to rescue Kenyans besieged by terrorists. The source within Recce intimate that Col Mbithi is being blamed to divert attention as the real blame should be on the IGP and CS who saw the need to fly to Garissa in a helicopter while leaving the commando team behind.

“What were they doing to do in Garissa without a commando strike force?” He asks.

But sources within the Kenya Police airwing reveal that the existing bad blood between Col Mbithi and National Police Airwing Director John Ochieng’ is affecting the operations at the Wilson Airport based outfit. While Kenya Police Airwing was constitutionally created, the National Police Airwing was created through a verbal directive of former IGP David Kimaiyo. He created an outfit to merge the Kenya Police and Administration Police airwings without effecting the changes on paper. Neither the constitution nor the Kenya Police Service standing orders recognises John Ochieng’s National police Airwing.

Ochieng is said to have decided to flex his muscle after the Garissa Attack, hoping to dethrone Rodgers Mbithi from the Kenya Police airwing and replace him so as to manage the impending procurement of 4 helicopters for the Kenya Police. The purchase is expected to cost Ksh 2.7billion, according to documents in our possession.

John Ochieng is set to retire in one year while Rodgers Mbithi is just in his early 50s.

Is Rodgers Mbithi the only scapegoat everyone is clinging to? Is it not just convenient to blame him? Was he fully briefed of the nature of attack in Garissa before the Cessna departed for Mombasa? Is Kenya Police Airwing the best equipped? Why was the Cabinet Secretary and Police Boss flying to Garissa at 9:10AM but leaving Commandos behind? Was it not convenient to airlift the commandos from Ruiru to Wilson or Garissa?

The Garissa University attack started around 5.30AM. It was random shooting of students and staff who were going for morning prayers. The terrorists entered through the main gates of the university and killed a security guard as they shot their way inside.

The information reached security circles and Kenya Army personnel and police officers responded immediately. The attackers were well armed and the university was in chaos as students were running all over for safety. Nairobi was immediately briefed with the Interior Minister and President informed of the attack at 6AM.

The President ordered the Interior Minister to manage the situation as the President decided to lazily carry on with his diary like nothing was happening. In the meantime, BBC, CNN, Aljazeera and all other international news outlets were focusing on Garissa attack giving live coverage. The President was not bothered.

He went about meeting even the kenya Private Sector Alliance (KEPSA) while whole university was under siege. He didn’t think, even one little bit, to suspend whatever he was doing and personally coordinate the rescue operation. The President didn’t flinch. Instead, he sipped his coffee stretched himself. This was wrong.

Any country would love to make its citizens feel sale and provide them with updated information about where to and not visit. Kenya and many third world countries don’t see that need and so every country providing such an information to its citizens is seen as doing the wrong thing. It’s unfortunate that the alert about Kenya is negative. The solution is not to have the President bang tables or engage is extremely racist rant instead of sorting the insecurity which always invites the negative notices by foreign embassies.

It is very convenient to blame the commandant of Kenya Police Airwing. It is convenient to pretend that two choppers from KFS and KWS have now been stationed in Ruiru to carry the GSU commandos. The truth is that Col Mbithi was not aware of the nature of attack at Garissa University before the departure of the plane to Mombasa. Two civilian planes, each being 4-seater, will not help mobilise the GSU commandos. The team need military choppers not civilian choppers.

Written by Robert

Respected Kenyan blogger, tech evangelist, and social justice activist. Robert is known for his hard-hitting articles and opinions disseminated through his Twitter handle @RobertAlai or Facebook page (


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