My husband paid hitmen Sh1.5 million to kill me, but I talked them out!!

On November 16, last year, Lucy Njeri Muhami, 48, packed her three suitcases and a small leather bag ready for her routine vacation in Kenya.

From Canada where she has lived for more than a decade, she was to make a stop in Nairobi and then head home to Embu where her husband would later join her for the Christmas festivities.

The following day, she bid her husband, Nelson Ndereba Njeru, goodbye at Toronto airport where he escorted her to board her flight to Amsterdam from where she would connect to the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA).

“He hugged me as usual as we bid each other goodbye,” recalls the athlete.

The couple are athletes with dozens of middle and long-distance races under their belts in careers spanning over two decades for the man and one decade for the woman. In the course of their careers, they have amassed properties bought with prize monies.

The couple from Embu got married traditionally in 2002. At the time, Njeri was two years into her running career with specialty in middle-distance races both locally and abroad.

Her partner was nearly a decade into his running career, majorly marathons, locally and overseas including Korea, Germany and China.

In 2000, Ndereba had won the Beijing Marathon for the second time, bagging $20,000 prize money at the time, according to worldathletics.org.

As their relationship blossomed, on August 27, 2006, Ndereba would sign a letter granting consent to Njeri to act on his behalf in property transactions.

In the letter affixed with a copy of his national identity card, he referred to Njeri as “my common-law partner otherwise called wife since February 2002”.

When they left Kenya, at some point they were living separately; Njeri in Mexico and Ndereba in Canada. Njeri says this was her first time travelling alone for their annual vacation home since the two moved in together in 2010 in Toronto,.

“I had suggested that since I was travelling alone, my brother Ben picks me from JKIA, but he (Ndereba) offered to hire a taxi to pick me up from the airport and chauffeur me for two days around Nairobi before taking me to our home in Embu,” she recalls. She was looking forward to the visit as she was last here in 2019.

On November 17, her plane touched down at JKIA at 10pm. She was cleared by the immigration officials at midnight then stepped out to look for her taxi driver.

“Luckily he was there waving a placard with my name… The car was black and I think it was a Toyota van, which was unusual because my husband had informed me that he had hired a Prado,” she recollects.

As she entered the car, she realised that the driver was with another man whom she assumed to be his colleague. They then drove out of the airport headed to the Embassy hotel where she had booked a room for her two-day stay in the city. Thereafter, she was to be driven to Dallas, Embu where the couple has a home.

However, she says she noticed something unusual when they got to the airport’s exit pay point.

“The driver seemed unaware of what to do,” she recalls, which surprised her.

She also noticed another unusual thing – the driver of the car behind them in the pay queue came to the front and helped her driver clear the parking fee.

“I was pleasantly surprised and asked him if that generosity was the norm. My last time in the country was 2019 and I could see that a lot had changed, so I thought of asking them that,” she says.

Out of the main airport entrance, they joined Mombasa road. She recalls that the car was moving at a slow speed. Before long, she says, the person she assumed to be the driver’s colleague jumped into the back seat of the car and started strangling her.

It was then that they dropped the bombshell. She claims the man told her that they had been paid Sh1.5 million by her husband to kill her and dump her body in Karura forest.

“The instructions were so clear that they knew I had copies of my properties’ documents with me, which they also asked for as instructed. I pleaded with them to spare my life and they agreed on condition that I pay them Sh2 million,” she alleges.

At this point, she says, the man stopped strangling her and played an audio recording of how, purportedly, the murder was planned. She says the gang replayed an audio recording of a conference call in which they were being given instructions on the execution.

“They threatened to complete their assignment if I failed to cooperate with them,” she recalls.

The man then picked up her leather bag and told her to hand over the Sh1.1 million in US dollars that she had carried in the bag, her three phones and copies of their properties’ documents.

She recounts a subsequent WhatsApp telephone conversation in which she overheard the hitmen and the man on the other end discussing how to eliminate her and dump her body.

In the audio, the hit men are heard receiving instructions on how to confirm to the planners once Njeri has landed and as soon as her body is dumped.

Hit man: Atafika saa ngapi (What time will she be landing)?

Planner: Si nilikutumia hizi details zote. Atafika saa nne usiku (I sent you these details. She will arrive at 10pm).

Hit man: Sawa basi nitawasha WhatsApp saa hiyo (Alright, I shall switch on my WhatsApp at that time).

Planner: Hapana, washa saa hii. Jaribu kuweka credit ikae ikiwa open. Kwanza saa hii ni saa ngapi (No, switch it it on now and try load some airtime for it to remain online. By the way what time is it in Kenya)?

Hit man: Saa hii ni kitu 5pm (It’s around 5pm).

Planner: Nilimwambia akifika airport yule mtu anamngoja atakuwa pale nje na atakuwa na karatasi hapo imeandikwa jina yake (I told her the person waiting to chauffer her will be waiting with a placard bearing her name).

Hit man: Sawa baba, haina shida. We nikimchukua, nikimaliza story si nitawapigia bora mtakuwa on. Sawa (Alright, there’s no problem. When I pick her and finish the assignment, I shall call you as long as you will be online, okay)?

Planner: Sisi tuko on from saa hii (Okay, we shall be on starting now).

Hit man: Mimi nitakuwa on nikimaliza mchezo (I shall be online when I finish the assignment).

Planner: Si ndio (Yes).

Hit man: Sawa baba. Sawa shangi (Alright).

Planner: Ukifaulu utapata kitu juu. Tutaangalia hiyo maneno hakuna wasi wasi (If you succeed, you shall get a reward on top, we shall look into that don’t worry and good luck). Goodluck!  …

Planner: Nilimpea jina lako. Ataangalia karatasi ile imeandikwa jina yake na ako na bag tatu. Mbili zinatoshana na kamoja kadogo, bila kuhesabu ile ya kuweka kwa bega kadogo. Simu ako na tatu. Ya green isitoke Nairobi, hiyo ndiyo anatumianga (I gave her your name, Selesia Njiru. She will be on the lookout for the placard bearing her name and will be carrying three bags; two of the same size, a smaller one and a sling bag. She will also have three phones, the green one should not leave Nairobi, it’s the one she uses).

Hit man: Eeh (Okay).

Planner: Hizo zingine ni mpya, hazina kadi. Na hazijawahi tumika zilinunuliwa wiki hii. Alafu ako na milioni moja iko kwa hiyo kabag kadogo hiyo ya leather. Hizo pesa uniwekee alafu kuna madocuments ziko kwa mabox pahali hatujui na hatujui ni ngapi nikufichwa zimefichwa na tumeng’ang’ana sana. (The other two are new, they don’t Sim cards and have never been used. They were bought this week. She will also be having a million shillings in her sling leather bag. Keep the money for me and some documents that she has hidden somewhere, we don’t know how many they are).

Planner: Kitambo tufikie hapa sio kitu muzuri. Unajua ukiwa mwanaumme unacheza game yako pole pole so tutakuja kuchukua hizo vitu pamoja na ndugu yangu sababu hatujui ni nini ametubebea (Things have not been easy for us; you know as a man you play your cards slowly so we shall come to pick those things with my brother because we don’t know what she has taken).

Planner: Alikuwa anakaa na ndugu yangu mbeleni na zile vitu alibeba kutoka kwa ndugu yangu sikumbuki. Kitambo akuje kwangu alikuwa anakaa Mexico wakati ndugu yangu alikuja Mexico akamuachia nyumba ya Mexico akakuja Canada. Ni bibi yangu so kuna documents za kando amekanyagia huezi ona (She used to live with my brother in Mexico and I can’t remember all the items she carted from there. She then left Mexico and joined me in Canada. Because she is my wife, she could be hiding some documents).

Hit man: Ni ukweli (It’s true).

Another audio is a conference call between the two plotters and one of the hit men.

Planner: Tumepangana umepewa details za kila kitu. Time ya kufika na kadhalika. Ukiongea na watu yako ukumbuke kama hujawahi endea mtu airport Nairobi kuna mahali watashuka waingie kwa mguu. Kama unaingiza gari mbili huko, utalipa toll ya gari mbili. Unaskia? (We have panned everything, her arrival time, etc. When you talk to your people remember, if you have never picked someone at the airport in Nairobi, there is a place they will have to exit the car for inspection. If you shall have two vehicles there, you shall pay for each car’s parking fee. Do you understand?)

Hit man: Eeh (Yes).

Planner: Msifanye chochote ndani ya airport sababu ya inspection. Mpaka mtoke nje ya airport. Ukiona mmetoka roundabout ujue mmemaliza mambo ya airport (Do not do anything inside the airport until you are past the roundabout).

Hit man: Ni kweli (True).

Planner: Tutangojea ripoti. Hakuna kitu tutafanya mpaka siku nne ziishe. No tulikuwa tumesema tatu, si ndio (We shall be waiting for the report, we shall not do anything until four days elapse, no, we said three, right)?

Kwa hivyo, ikifika Thursday, mimi nitapiga simu Nairobi kuuliza mbona amenyamaza tangu aende. Ama Saturday ndiyo mzuri so nyinyi mjue kama mwili mtatupa Thursday ili apatikane Friday. Unaona (Therefore, on Thursday, I shall call Nairobi to ask why she has been silent since she got there. Or Saturday is better? So you guys will have to decide whether to dump the body on Thursday for it to be discovered on Friday? You see)?

Hit man: Eeh (Yes).

Planner: Mwili ikipatikana kuanzia Sunday huko itakuwa mzuri (It will be good if the body is found from Sunday onwards).

Hit man: Ni sawa (Okay).

Planner: Hizo vitu zingine na hiyo pesa muniwekee sababu kuna pesa mingi. Umeskia? (Keep the money and the other documents for me because it is a lot. You hear me)?

Hit man: Ni sawa (Okay).

Planner: Kazi ni kwako, sisi tunakupea kazi tumekwambia our main point ni nini (The ball is in your court now, we have given you the job and you know what our main interest is).

It was now 3am.

She fetched $10,000 (Sh1.25 million) from her bag, handed it to the gang and begged the hit men to spare her life.

Along the way, in a deserted location, she says the driver stopped the car and stepped out to meet the occupants of another car that was trailing them.

She claims she identified the car as belonging to the man that had offered to clear her driver’s parking fee and realised that she was dealing with a larger gang.

“They mumbled some words in the dark and came back to the vehicle. I begged them not to dump me on the road and kept nudging them to spare my life, promising to top up the amount they had been paid, which I did the following morning,” she adds.

Njeri says she was unable to tell where they were, but the hit men were persuaded not to kill her so long as she paid extra money.

“They then drove into a hotel somewhere in Mwiki according to a signpost I had spotted in the dark, booked two rooms and put me into one under their constant watch. I cooperated with them and the following morning joined them for breakfast before they drove to Thika where I registered a new M-Pesa line for use in withdrawing money and then proceeded to Kenol where I withdrew Sh200,000 from my Equity ATM and handed it to them in cash,” she recalls.

A cash withdrawal slip seen by the Nation shows she withdrew the Sh200, 000 in cash at 10.57am on November 18, 2022 at Equity branch, Kenol. Convinced that they would get more money from her, she says, they drove her to her home in Embu and left.

“I luckily survived the murder plot,” she says, explaining that she thereafter forged a relationship with her would-be killers. She says she befriended them to get more evidence on the murder plot and she would meet them in various places thereafter. At some point, she travelled to Mombasa to clear some imported goods with the two as her bodyguards. She also met the two suspects in Karatina in the company of her two brothers.

“By that time, we had exchanged contacts and I had learnt that they are from Embu. I also wanted the clips they had of the murder plot, so I kept in touch and managed to convince them to become my witnesses,” she says.

“I also went to visit his (Ndereba’s) mother to check if she knew something and he called her in my presence asking her if she had heard any news about me. She told him that she was with me.”

Njeri says she then asked to talk to him and asked him if he was happy to hear her voice. “He said he was happy as his mother and sister watched wondering what was happening.”

Njeri says her husband then called her and asked her if she was picked by the taxi that he had booked for her, to which she lied that she had to find an alternative because it was not at the airport.

On November 28, Njeri filed a report on the alleged plot to kill her at the Directorate of Criminal Investigations headquarters after about a week under OB number DCI/C/GEN/COMP/6/11/2022.

Asked by this writer on January 12 for his response to the claims that he hired hit men to kill his wife, Ndereba responded: “Talk to my lawyers.” When pressed to share the contacts of the lawyers urgently, he responded: “Urgent for who?”

The Nation contacted Ndereba again on January 14, reminding him to share his lawyers’ contacts. There was no response to the WhatsApp message. Another reminder yesterday wasn’t responded to. Calls to the line were not answered. We confirmed that the telephone number is registered under Nelson Njeru.

Njeri has been a professional athlete for the better part of her life. She participated in championships in different countries including Canada’s Ottawa Marathon in 2010 and the Waterfront Marathon.

It is after the Waterfront marathon that Njeri decided to shift base and join her husband in Canada.

Her husband is the one who sponsored part of her stay and the process of acquiring citizenship.

The couple, both dual citizens, had no child and in 2019, Njeri had suggested that they divide their property into two so that each family can benefit from their wealth upon their demise.

“After the pandemic, I made the request again and even asked him to let us adopt his son from a previous marriage to come live with us in Canada as a family and he agreed. The boy was due to travel before the end of the year,” she adds. Njeri says she has obtained restraining orders against Ndereba and filed for divorce with the hope that the two hit men will testify in her favour.

The Head of Serious Crimes Unit Michael Sang told the Nation: “The probe is on and we shall be engaging all, including the suspects before making a conclusion on what transpired. At the moment, the case has too many gaps that need to be filled,” he said.

The police are also analysing Njeri’s phone data to establish who she was in contact with before, during and after the incident.

In addition, they want to find out how she could have been booked into a different room at the hotel in Mwiki, wait until morning and join her captors for breakfast without raising alarm. They also want to establish whether the allegations have anything to do with the divorce case.

 

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