Home » SSU and the apparent police go-slow revives memories of Kenya’s first extrajudicial killing of Gor Mahia infamous player and alleged thug Nicodemus Arudhi

SSU and the apparent police go-slow revives memories of Kenya’s first extrajudicial killing of Gor Mahia infamous player and alleged thug Nicodemus Arudhi

by Joshua Wanga
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In a case that roped in James Orengo, who would finally become Siaya County governor more than 40 years later, and Isaac Salat whose son Nick Salat would later become Secretary General of KANU, the dreaded Patrick Shaw headed a unit that would, decades later, morph into a squad known as the Special Service Unit, SSU.

On the day after the discovery of Arudhi’s cold body on the hard cement slabs of the Nairobi City Mortuary, there was an uproar in Parliament.

James Orengo, the MP for Ugenya, rose to say this: “I beg to ask the Minister of State, Office of the President, the following question by Private Notice: Is the Minister aware that on the 20th June, 1981, police searched the house of a Mr Nicodemus Odhiambo (Arudhi) in Nairobi in his absence?
“Is he further aware that Mr Odhiambo later reported to Shauri Moyo Police Station and the Criminal Investigation Headquarters as asked to do so by the police and that, thereafter, he was not seen again and his body was later found in the City Mortuary? Could he explain the circumstances that led to the death of Mr Odhiambo?”

The answer Orengo got added fuel to the legend of Daniel Nicodemus. It was given by Mr Isaac Salat, the Assistant Minister in the Office of the President.
He said: “Mr Deputy Speaker, I beg to reply. Mr Deputy Speaker, I would like to consider the three parts of the question as one. I am aware of the death, on the night of 21st and 22nd June, 1981, of Mr David Odhiambo son of Nicodemus, alias Daniel Odhiambo son of N. Owiti, alias Daniel Odhiambo son of Nicodemus, alias Daniel Nicodemus.”
This name was a favourite of people close to him. Fans who adored the work of his big boots also liked to mention her name alongside his. It was an expression of their appreciation of her motherly demeanour.
Her meat joint was a favourite of Nicodemus’ football crowd.
The man with all these names is one of the most colourful personages ever to wear the shirt of the Kenya national football team.

He is also the only sportsman whose fate would merit, even in infamy, debate in Parliament. His three jobs were playing for Kenya, helping Salome in her kiosk, and reportedly robbing people.
For the third, he regularly did time in police and remand jails.
Before his death, he had clocked two lengthy prison sentences.
He left behind a legend, which began when he was still alive.

People said that he was such an indispensable member of the national team that arrangements were routinely made to free him from jail for just the time needed to play for Harambee Stars in do-or-die matches – and then return him to serve out his term.
This wasn’t true, as his friend and teammate Allan Thigo explained, but it was coming from somewhere.
He was in and out of remand on bail so often that many people could no longer keep track of his status.
In January 1973, he appeared before a Nairobi court charged with stealing Sh10 at the Bird Cage Club along Government Road, since changed to Moi Avenue. He was released on bail.
When his shadowy job became known, nobody had the courage to talk to him about it. People just whispered.
One day, on his way to Starehe Boys Centre where he was an assistant director, Patrick Shaw, the mountainous crime buster of the 1970s, passed by Kariokor Market.
Thereafter, word swept through the team that he had told Salome: ‘Tell your boy to stop what he is doing or else I will stop him.’
Shaw was a police reservist who operated by his own rules, a system within a system.

He was so famous for issuing such warnings to the many criminals that he later executed in cold blood that this statement is eminently plausible.
It was thus only a matter of time before Nicodemus made his rendezvous with death. On the night of June 22, 1981, his bullet-riddled body was dumped on a slab at the City Mortuary. They buried him in his native village at Alego Ng’ia.

Of his team mates, only his best friend, William Chege Ouma, attended the funeral.
The rest were too scared of Shaw’s dreadful habit: he went to the funerals of his victims to scan the mourners using the common sense logic that funerals are attended only by a deceased person’s closest people.
Nicodemus’ team mates were apprehensive that Shaw might pounce on somebody.
In Parliament, the furore caused by this extra-judicial execution remains without equal for an ordinary sportsman.
His case was taken up by Orengo, then into his second year as a Member of Parliament after a sterling stint as a student leader at the University of Nairobi.

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