MUHURI has written to Interior CS Fred Matiang’i to bring back home seven Kenyans stranded in Ras Kamboni, Somalia.
They are Patrick Shingula, Martin Mwaghazi, Ignas Kialu, and Michael Mjala. Others are Gabriel Kennedy, Elia Mwalili, and Abas Mutuku.
The Kenyan Constitution permits the group to be in the country, irrespective of the prevailing circumstance, because they are citizens by birth.
MUHURI wrote to Matiang’i since the case borders on citizenship and immigration, all under his docket.
President Uhuru Kenyatta locked the group out of the country when he on March 25, closed the borders due to coronavirus pandemic. He suspended international passenger flights. On May 16, the president extended the lockdown.
More than a month has elapsed with the seven still outside the country. And, none has contracted coronavirus, they told MUHURI. If one did, all would have fallen ill with the highly infectious and lethal virus.
The government has been evacuating Kenyans stuck in China and India. But the State has not commented about seven, whose entry into Kenya was blocked by Lamu county commissioner, Irugu Macharia.
“Article 39 (3) of the constitution of Kenya grants all citizens the right to enter, remain in and reside anywhere in the country,” MUHURI lawyer Lumatete Muchai told Matiang’i in the letter dated May 14.
The group left Kenya for a welding job in Kismayo, Somalia on diverse dates between January 6 – 25, via Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA). The department of immigration cleared them to travel.
The seven’s contract, which one Allarakea Salim Suleiman offered, involved dismantling wrecked warships.
Suleiman, in a letter to the immigration department seeking clearance for the seven, signed off as the director of Solution Engineering Ltd.
The company, whose registration number is PVT/2016/029497, majors on structural and mechanical engineering, the letter in our possession shows.
The group’s contract ended on March 31 six days after Uhuru had closed the borders over Covid-19 disease. They could not fly back because the airspace was shut, too.
They started journeying back to Kenya on April 5 through the Indian Ocean. A day later, police from Jubaland, Somalia and two Kenya Defense Forces (KDF) officers blocked them at Ras Kamboni — some 15 kilometres from Kiunga, Kenya. The officers questioned their movements, then confiscated their travelling documents, rendering them captives.
The officers had cleared the seven to enter Kenya subject to approval by Lamu county commissioner, who declined, claiming he could not violate Uhuru’s order.
On April 23 the seven complained to MUHURI via a telephone call from Ras Kamboni, a once training camp for extremists with connections to Al-Qaeda.
MUHURI reached out to Macharia.
“Macharia declined to grant them entry despite several communications between him and MUHURI indicating the willingness to adhere to testing and isolation or quarantine in relation with the national government’s policy to control and suppress Covid-19,” MUHURI said in the letter.
The seven were the sole breadwinners for their respective families. They have exhausted the money they earned and can no longer afford a decent hotel or meal.
The group has been sleeping on the streets for most of their confinement period, further endangering their lives and health. Their families back home are destitute.
MUHURI told Matiang’i the group is willing to undergo Covid-19 testing and quarantine once allowed in.
“The persons mentioned above are ready to follow any other directions required of them by the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Interior to assist in the control and containment of Covid-19,” MUHURI said.
MUHURI recently gave relief aid to the families of the seven, at least to keep them going.