Poor millionaires: NYS suspects fighting chawa, sleeping in cold ‘Pipeline’

Ann Ngirita and Richard Ndubai at the Milimani Court

Ann Ngirita, one of the score of suspects held over the Sh9 billion NYS corruption scandal has complained of starvation.

Since being held in remand last Sunday, Ngirita claimed she has survived on the strength of one samosa a kind relative provided.

Ngirita and other suspects are slowly coming to terms with chawa in Kenyan Remand prisons, lack of privacy and showering in gangs.

They have also to contend with remand rules written in Swahili on a black board: Heshimu hesabu, heshimu maombi, heshimu sahani ya mwenzako na heshimu usafi.

While Public Service PS Lillian Mbogo-Omollo is at Kenyatta National Hospital, the men, including NYS Director General Richard Ndubai are holed up at the notorious Industrial Area Remand Prison, Nairobi.

Ngirita and Ndubai and his four managers are the only ones receiving preferential treatment: Ngirita was provided an extra mattress and blanket for her baby.

But she has to eat prison posho served at intervals: 6:30am is porridge and tea for breakfast while ugali and sukuma wiki are served for lunch and supper and eaten from plastic utensils with bare hands. There are no tables or chairs. A spoon is a luxury.

Nduba and his four colleagues, on the other hand, are the other suspects enjoying   ‘luxurious accommodation’ after the Juvenile Remand Area was turned into sleeping quarters. It is an unfamiliar territory, though, for a commander used to barking summons, but is now taking orders from warders dictating his routine involving rationed meals, movement and meeting visitors.

The NYS director and his two lieutenants;  Nicholas Ahere, senior deputy director and Wellingtone Lubira, the  acting finance director are incarcerated in the same cell as former deputy director NYS Sammy Muchuki and Evans Kundu, formerly in charge of the mechanical transport branch.

The five suspects are being held in Block B, which holds juveniles alongside adjacent Block C where all young inmates have been lumped together to make space for the high profile suspects.

Ndubai and his co-accused do not sleep on the floor – the cells have beds, mattresses and bedding. The Block has a washroom saving the NYS bosses the ignominy of relieving themselves in a shared bucket.

For a man used to a three or five course meal, Ndubai survives on sukuma wiki and ugali for lunch, dry rice and madondo for supper and tea and a slice of bread for breakfast.

“There is no special diet for them, they feed on what is available and served to the rest of the remandees” said Commissioner General of Prisons Isaya Osugo adding that meals from outside are not allowed.

Unlike other inmates, restrictions are relaxed on Ndubai who meets visitors inside one of the offices, according to a source who said the arrangement had angered warders who feel Ndubai is receiving preferential treatment.

Nevertheless, for the 64 year old, Remand Prison is far from his cozy Blue Zone address in Nairobi next to diplomats and UN employees.

“He is brought to the office where he meets the visitors, a breach that is causing unease among colleagues,” said a warder. Normally, prisoners talk to visitors through a barrier either made of glass or metal grills- there is no physical contact.

An official at NYS Engineering Institute said it was embarrassing to see their boss in shackles.

“The police and prisoners warders have no manners, how dare they chain our boss? It is humiliating seeing him in handcuffs,” said the chief inspector.

Clara Mbau

Other suspects are not as lucky and have to get accustomed to remand colleagues staying naked  like meat in a butcher while their clothes dry.

Inmates shower in groups while others use swinging doors for privacy. There is no toilet paper or flush plumbing. Water is a luxury.

Sleeping is on cold simiti where one spends sleepless nights fighting chawa. 

Despite their millions, the suspects are subjected to ‘pipeline’ a cold corner reserved for new inmates where one is lucky to get an old tattered mattress and worn out full blanket.

Suspects can only salivate at ‘State House’ where veteran remandees sleep and new ones can only  be promoted to ‘State House’ when a veteran is freed and a new entrant is allowed based on the number of months or years an inmate has been in the ‘gourd’ 

Remand roll calls are made after breakfast and failure to be present equals deep trouble with the wardens.

Isaac Ngugi a former inmate at Industrial area prison told The Nairobian

“Sometimes you don’t even know whether it’s daytime because you are inside the cell most of the time. Cleaning of cubicles, bathrooms and toilets is mandatory for everyone, it doesn’t matter if you are rich or poor. People are equal in a remand. People get diseases because sometimes food rations are hardly enough so they go to the dustbins and eat what they find.”

The NYS suspects take part in community service cleaning sleeping cubicles but spend most of their times in cells when not mingling with fellow inmates, cleaning or sleeping.


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