By Nyambega Gisesa, Tuesday, April 14th 2015. The Standard (Kenya)
NAIROBI: Questions have emerged after reports that a delay in flying the General Service Unit’s Recce Squad to Garissa on the morning of the attack was because the plane was allegedly held up in Mombasa on an unauthorised mission.
The plane is said to have arrived at Wilson Airport with the Kenya Police Airwing commandant Col (Rtd) Rogers Mbithi’s daughter-in-law and her two sons from Mombasa at 11.35am on the day of the attack.
According to records at Wilson Airport, the plane arrived with “five souls on board”, meaning five individuals – the crew and Mbithi’s daughter-in-law and her two teenage sons.
A section of the media had reported the plane was also carrying a security officer’s son but a source familiar with the matter denied the claim. “The said businessman has never used any of our planes,” a pilot at the airport said.
Questions have been raised on whether Inspector General of Police Joseph Boinett made an error of judgement by flying with two planes to Garissa, leaving behind the Recce squad. Boinett has since received a brief stating the plane had flown on an unauthorised lease to Mombasa, sources say. The IG has been hard pressed to explain why he travelled with two planes alongside Interior Cabinet Secretary Joseph Nkaissery instead of giving preference to the commandos who killed the terrorists.
The Recce Squad arrived in Garrissa several hours after the security team that was accompanied by several MPs.
The plane that is now the subject of an investigation over a possibility it was used for a private mission to Mombasa and consequently delayed response to the Garissa attack, had been cleared for a training assignment. According to records at Wilson Airport, the plane left the facility on April 2 at around 7.30am for Mombasa on a training flight with acting Superintendent James Kabo and his student Inspector Mutai. Upon arrival, the crew reportedly took a short break. It was during the break that Mbithi is said to have requested the pilot to carry his family who had gone to the Mombasa International Airport to board a flight to Nairobi.
“The plane did not divert from its original course at any one time. They picked members of the family of the boss but still maintained its core business. It’s common for police vehicles and planes to do the same,” a source at the Air wing told The Standard. Flight records at the Kenya Police Airwing indicate the plane arrived at Wilson Airport and stayed for over an hour before the commandos arrived.
Monday, Mbithi said he would not respond to the issues since they were being handled by his boss, Boinett, who told The Standard he was in a meeting. He promised to respond to the allegations later.