On December 29, Shafi Sheikh Noor, a 21-year-old Wajir resident, recorded a video of himself expressing his joy shortly after being freed by a Garissa court.
“I am happy that today I will be going back home. I have been found not guilty of any charges brought against me,” he says in Somali, his native language, in a video seen by the Nation.
But his family did not know that was the last time they would see him. He has been missing for a month, abducted by unknown people.
Asked about the case, Mr Shafi’s uncle, Ahmed Noor, could not utter a full sentence without breaking into tears.
“On December 4, 2021, Shafi was going about his normal business. He was at home in the Shaleyetey area of Wajir,” Mr Noor said.
“Then at around 4pm, his former girlfriend called his cellphone wanting to meet up. The two had not been talking for some time. He was curious as to why she wanted to meet him that day.”
Mr Shafi, his uncle said, was reluctant at first but decided to ask a male friend to accompany him.
“They headed to Wajir town to meet the girl. Upon reaching there, about 12 people in two white Land Cruisers stopped them. He was asked for his identification document, which he said he had forgotten at home,” Mr Noor said.
The people then took Mr Shafi home, where he resided with his grandmother.
“The family members present asked the people who they were and they identified themselves as police officers, but they did not have any uniforms and had covered their faces with surgical masks,” he said.
“They searched the home and then drove away with Shafi to the Wajir Police Station. They said they had questions to ask him and would release him.”
While in Wajir, Mr Shafi, the girl he had gone to meet and another girl were all arrested, Mr Noor added.
“They were all questioned at the Wajir Police Station, but the two girls were later released and a phone belonging to one of the girls was confiscated by police officers for further investigations.”
But it was discovered later that Mr Shafi was taken to the Garissa Police Station the same day at around 6pm.
At Garissa, Mr Shafi’s cousin, Abdillahi Yusuf, was waiting for the officers to present him.
“My sister-in-law called me to say that my cousin had been arrested by police officers in Wajir and was being brought to Garissa. I was shocked, knowing well he had never been arrested before nor found on the wrong side of the law,” Mr Yusuf said.
“With other family members, we headed to the Garissa Police Station, where we were informed that my cousin had cases to answer and would be presented in court the next day.”
The family noted that, on the morning of December 5, Mr Shafi was presented in a Garissa court but was taken back to Garissa Police Station.
“He was brought back to the Garissa Law Courts on December 6, 2021, where the police sought to hold him longer. They took him to the Madogo Police Station,” Mr Yusuf said.
He said that on December 20, Mr Shafi was returned to court but the police again asked for 10 more days.
Mr Shafi was investigated for terror-related offences, with police saying he had been communicating with a suspected terrorist, the family said.
“On December 29, 2021, he was presented again in court and freed after his case was dismissed,” said Mohammed Ibrahim, another cousin of his.
But as the family was heading out of the Garissa courthouse where they had packed their car, a Toyota Hilux double-cabin pickup truck (KBV 232R) blocked their way and several people suspected to be police officers grabbed Mr Shafi and drove away.
“I tried recording the whole scene, but the police officers took my phone and went with it,” Mr Ibrahim said.
They reported the matter at the Garissa Police Station under OB number 26/29/12/2021.
The family describes Mr Shafi as a nonviolent person who had never been arrested before.
“He had never gone missing from home. He only travelled once back in 2020 when he went to Kajiado to visit a family member. He completed his secondary school studies in 2017 at Shaleyetey School in Wajir. He was just a taxi driver,” Mr Ibrahim said.
The Somali community, through their chairman Abdirahman Yusuf, urged police to speed up their investigations and bring Mr Shafi back home.