Police Inspector Simmone Wambugu Who Ordered Cabinet Meetings Twice
Although the Head of Public Service is charged with convening Cabinet meetings at State House, a police inspector once ordered the ministers to convene... twice.
In 1977, a 25-year-old Inspector Simmone Wambugu found himself convening a Cabinet meeting.
According to Kenya Year Book, on the fateful day, Wambugu was manning the nerve centre of the most confidential communications in government, the Operations Room at Vigilance House, Nairobi.
An Egypt Air cargo plane trespassed the Kenyan airspace without any authorization.
Repeated attempts by air traffic controllers at Jomo Kenyatta Airport for the plane to identify itself were met by a defiant crew demurred.
Soon after, Kenya Air Force Hawker Hunter jets were in the air successfully intercepting the plane and forcing it to land at JKIA.
On inspection, the plane’s cargo was found to be a large consignment of arms which was destined for Somalia whose territorial boundary with Somalia was disputed.
"That was the first time I convened a Cabinet meeting," Wambugu was quoted.
Although he could not recall who specifically gave him the order, he recalled that it was the red telephone of State House.
"I was asked to convene an emergency Cabinet meeting, which took place at 1am in our Operations Room. The ministers didn’t go to State House.”
A year later, fate would find Wambugu on night duty manning the same when Mzee Jomo Kenyatta died on 22 August, 1978.
Charles Njonjo, Kenyatta’s long-serving Attorney- General, called Vigilance House at around 9am hours after Mzee passed on at 3am.
The news of the death had remained a State secret and only top security officials and immediate family members knew that the president was dead.
"There will be a Cabinet meeting at State House, Nairobi, at 11 o’clock’, Can you convene it!" Njonjo had told Wambugu from State House.
Strange as this may sound, the inspector of police was tasked with the gruelling task of convening all the Ministers including the Vice-President Daniel arap Moi, whom millions of Kenyans, including Wambugu, had no idea was constitutionally already the President.
Njonjo had directed that the Cabinet meeting at State House, Nairobi, could only take place when Moi finally arrived and he finally did finally flew in from Baringo aboard a helicopter.
Even when Wambugu left the desk that morning, neither him nor the rest of the country knew that the President was dead.
On his way home to Buru Buru estate where he lived with his cousin, Wambugu and the presidential motorcade passed each other along Juja Road.
The Mercedes escorts had their ‘President’s Escort’ plates covered and Wambugu had witnessed enough to make a very educated guess... Kenyatta was dead.
At 3pm that afternoon, Voice of Kenya veteran broadcasters Nobert Okare and Hassan Mazoa went on air to announce the death in English and Kiswahili respectively.
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