By Ndung’u Nyoro
When I took up the issue of Mercy Josiah, I did it like any other campaign I have run in the past. I engaged my mind and energy into it hoping to discover a thing or two about someone in distress.
To begin with, I didnâ€™t know the 19 year old girl. Neither did we have previous contact. But a screenshot I stumbled upon in the social media made me feel she needed a voice to tell her story. I felt sheâ€™s a naive andâ€™depressedâ€™ girl.
Besides that, my eagle eye couldnâ€™t help but poke holes in the story as the nation reporter had pieced it up. I began a journey of discovery, just as innocent as a brotherâ€™s keeper would do.
My journey of discovery has made me meet Mercy Josiah at least on three occasions. My first was at Karen Shopping Centre. The young girl turned an hour late but I still had the patience to wait. I was dying to meet her. Finally she came and as she climbed the stairs to our meeting point, I couldnâ€™t help but sympathize with the predicament she was in. Her small body brought out a picture of vulnerability. That alone made me conclude Iâ€™m in the â€ª#â€Žhudumaâ€¬ to the end- to push nation media for the absolute truth.
The same day evening I met Mercy Josiah at one of the hotels in Mombasa Road. She came along with one of the leaders from Coast. Infact they were meant to be two leaders but a change of venue at the last minute inconvenienced the other leader. At that point I felt Mercy ought to tell what she knew of Marco the German or whatever connection in the story since my morning meeting convinced me beyond doubts that she was the girl in the picture. She had turned up with the clothes she wore when the picture in question was taken.
A few calls to my lawyer and she explained some legal aspects of the case. She encouraged me to pursue the matter. At that moment we arranged of our meeting at Nation Centre. I didnâ€™t inform my contact at Nation Centre but either way I knew they also longed to meet the girl.
The morning after, Mercy Josiah , myself and her friend whom I met the first time on that occasion, stepped into NMG. We had to wait as they sealed a quick appointment with the bosses.
At the boardroom we met Mr. Mutuma Mathiu, Mr. Sammy Wambua, Mr. Angira Zaddock, 3 other guys from NMG, and a guy my instincts told me was from NIS. A lady also quietly joined us but was listening through the meeting from a distance. She later told me sheâ€™s a silent listener.
Not wanting to be disadvantaged I set my tools of work ready. I had to capture every moment of it. My new friends across the table were equally set. They played smart too with recording devices.
As Angira took us through the opening part, I could feel the story was a cooked one. For example, the said â€˜crimeâ€™ was reported in Nairobi and not the nearest police station where the crime was said to have been commited in Coast.
He also said they had visited the school and are in Kisii where the â€˜suicideâ€™ girl was reported to hail from. He confirmed there was no fresh grave in sight and no knowledge of the relatives.
All this while I kept feeling their was a fabricated story. We were also informed that one of the policemen who helped out in getting crime documents for â€˜mercy bundiâ€™s sisterâ€™ turned out to be a taxi operator. He was a fake cop.
When I asked what he relied upon to conclude mercy died, he said he was shown a photo of a corpse in an album. I said that was not a conclusive way of establishing a fact. We were all convinced there was a problem. And we all asked, who died and where?
At some point I noted Mercy Josiah was not consistent with her responses and also tried to conceal as much information. I opted to be keen on all her answers. When asked to provide mobile number for her parents, she couldnâ€™t. At some point said she was using a new handset. In my wisdom, I told her in the meeting,parentsâ€™ contacts are saved in the head. Still she didnâ€™t. But she gave directions to her home in the village, back in Lamu.
An alert me maintained eye contact in all what Mercy was doing. Hiding her phone behind the table, i noticed her sending a text to her dad. It read â€ Baba ukipigiwa simu usichukueâ€. That I questioned after the meeting severally and she told me, â€˜huyo ni baba mwingine bado mimi humwita babaâ€.
In the process of our discussion, Angira produced a number. He asked that we dial it using Mercyâ€™s phone. A few things here and there and she said the phone didnâ€™t have network. I pressed Angira in the process to tell me whose number it was. He later told me it was the mobile number of Sarah the girl in question who claimed her sister committed suicide.
As part of our conclusion on NMG meeting, we agreed on an apology was necessary. A few exchange with NMG legal representative and we finally agreed on running the apology accompanied by 3 photosâ€¦2 of Mercy and one of sarah, the girl who faked the death disguising as the sister.
So I left the meeting with two theories:
1. Someone malicious to Mercy Josiah faked her death. That was pure defamation. This theory disadvantaged NMG. A serious dent to their reputation.
2. A vicious gang of extortionists was in existence. This was either to blackmail NMG for the sensational fake story or Marco the German. This could only be possible if Mercy Josiah was part of the cartel and perhaps some law enforcers and reporters to ensure a perfect script.
I also made contact with the manager of Kinondo hotel where Mercy Hunja was said to have committed suicide. He confirmed nothing of the same happened. He was contemplating suing NMG for Defamation.
Just to mention, after our NMG meeting, I pressed Mercy to tell me the absolute truth about Sarah, the â€˜sisterâ€™ in the storm. â€˜Huyo tulikuwa marafiki kitambo na sijui yuaniuliza nini mimi. Sio rafiki yangu tenaâ€™. She told me.
I was therefore convinced the plot was thickening. She wasnâ€™t too innocent as I initially thought. But she was too economical with information.
I know for sure NMG have been doing their homework too. I expect them to give a comprehensive report on their findings very soon, perhaps in one of the weekends.
But they canâ€™t escape blame for shoddy reporting. When did they cease being factual?
My heart bleeds for our young generation. they are greedy for quick money regardless of the source. Where is our future as our country?
As I pen off, I must say this was my most challenging assignment/campaign I have ever done. But the grace was sufficient. I weaved through the various parties with ease and satisfactory answers. I have documented everything for future reference.
So, whoâ€™s more guilty of NMG and THE EXTORTIONIST CARTEL?