Former President Daniel Moi’s long-serving bodyguard Senior Superintendent of Police Leonard Yator’s remembers the 1982 coup which made him and his boss spend a night in a cold bush s gunmen sprayed bullets on his house.
During a past interview with Nation, he gave an account of what happened to Moi from the moment they got word that the rogue soldiers had taken charge of the country.
A few minutes past 3am on August 1, 1982, Moi got word that rebel soldiers had begun the coup.
Since the president was at his Kabarak home, Yator thought Moi wouldn’t be safe if the rebels thought of bombing the house.
He tried to convince his boss to hide in a maize plantation at the far end of the 3,000-acre Kabarak farm as they waited for the Presidential Escort Commander Elijah Sumbeiywo to arrive from State House, Nakuru.
Moi, however, declined arguing that if he was going to die, he would prefer to be in his home.
When Elijah arrived, he stated that the plantation wasn’t safe as well and instructed that they hide in a bush far north along the Nakuru/Eldama-Ravine Road.
Yator and a few other guards remained in the bush with Moi and Elijah went back to the house to monitor developments.
After some time, Yator received instructions to take the president further up north towards Pokot where they stayed until arrangments were made to travel to State House, Nairobi.
Brigadier Philip Kipkoech Chebet, the man charged with Moi’s safety during the travel, told The Standard in a separate interview of the hard task bestowed upon him at only 28 years.
At the time, he was a Major in charge of Personnel and Logistics at the Armoured Brigade Headquarters in Lanet.
“My orders were to ensure that the Head of State arrived safely at State House Nairobi,” he recalled.
Chebet organised four armoured vehicles, fitted with anti-craft machine guns which could attack low flying aircraft.
The escort team decided to sandwich the president’s motorcade. Two armoured cars were to lead the convoy followed by two lorries and a Land Rover, all full of soldiers armed to teeth.
They left Nakuru for Nairobi at around midday and the convoy couldn’t travel as fast because the lorries wouldn’t catch up.
The convoy made its way into Nairobi at 4pm through Ngong Road which by that time, was lined up with soldiers on both sides up to State House.
Moi then addressed the nation through the state-controlled Voice of Kenya radio at around 6.30pm after the rebel soldiers had been overpowered.