Woman who smuggled firearm from Somalia gets 30 years in prison

Jamila Eymoi

Ms Jamila Eymoi at the Mandera Law Courts on January 19, 2022. She was sentenced to serve 30 years in prison after being found guilty of illegal possession of a firearm and ammunition. 

Photo credit: Manase Otsialo I Nation Media Group

Early last year, Ms Jamila Maalim Hussein Eymoi fell in love with a military officer in Somalia and crossed the border to settle with her newfound lover in Bulahawa, a town conjoined to Mandera town.

She did not follow immigration laws when she crossed the border. This is simply because it is not normal for anyone to ask you about your travel documents when crossing into Somalia or returning to Kenya.

There is no official immigration point, let alone immigration officers, except police officers purporting to guard the border as they collect Sh50 from anybody crossing into Bulahawa or into Mandera.

“You don’t really need anything like a passport because nobody will ask you about it at the border. You only need Sh50 for the police officers,” a regular traveller between the two towns said, requesting not to be named.

Bulahawa in Somalia, Mandera in Kenya and Suftu in Ethiopia are so connected that a local can wake up in Mandera, have breakfast and cross into Suftu for lunch and then into Bulahawa for supper before deciding where to spend the night.

“We have people with wives housed in each of these three towns and they keep just going round and it has become a normal life for them,” our source said.

On an unspecified day in April last year, Ms Eymoi crossed back into Kenya from Somalia and just like any other person, she paid her “immigration fee” to the police officers and her luggage was not checked.

She proceeded to her uncle’s house at Busley estate with Mandera town.

She told her host that she had come for treatment at Mandera County Referral Hospital and that she would travel back to Takaba in Mandera West immediately after she was treated.

Mr Hussein Nunow Sheikh, her uncle, handed her ‘sick’ niece Sh200 for transport to the hospital.

Ms Eymoi had managed to trick her uncle to believe that she had indeed travelled from Takaba and that she was sick.

On April 20, 2021, Mr Sheikh was shocked to return home in the evening to find well-armed security officers in his compound.

The officers were with Ms Eymoi, who had gone for treatment.

Mr Sheikh told a Mandera court that the officers and his visitor entered his house and seized an item under a bed that his niece used.

“I was summoned to go to the Mandera Police Station, where I was informed that the item found in my house was a firearm,” Mr Sheikh told the court.

Mr Sheikh said it was Ms Eymoi who lifted the mattress on the bed and removed an item.

According to police, Ms Eymoi crossed the border with the stolen firearm and went to hide it at her uncle’s house, where she spent a night.

She left Mr Sheikh’s home, alleging that she was going to hospital, only to visit another home near the Kenya-Ethiopia border.

Security agencies in Bulahawa had raised the alarm about an AK-47 rifle stolen by a woman who had crossed into Mandera town with it.

Police officer Johanes Nyangige told the court that a liaison officer from Somalia reported a missing firearm to them.

He said the photographs and phone numbers of the suspect were provided and upon tracking, Ms Eymoi was arrested near the Kenya-Ethiopia border in Mandera town.

She took the officers to her uncle’s house, where they recovered the said firearm.

Mr Nyangige, in his evidence, said they seized a dismantled firearm wrapped in paper bags and rugs.

The recovered firearm had a magazine loaded with 13 rounds of ammunition.

The accused was also found in possession of several identification cards belonging to different people, a driving licence belonging to one Mohamed Ali Mohamed and an Equity Bank card for Ms Halima Hussein Mohamed.

On April 22, 2021, Ms Eymoi faced three charges in Mandera court and admitted all, only to deny them when the matter came up for presentation of the facts by the prosecution a week later.

After a long court process characterised by adjournments, Mandera Senior Resident Magistrate Kimani Mukabi noted that the prosecution case was cogent and watertight.

Ms Eymoi was put on her defence after the court established that she had a case to answer on May 28, 2021, but she introduced a lawyer on July 9, when the matter had been set for defence hearing.

Mr Ibrahim Yussuf, her lawyer, sought adjournment of the proceedings to give him more time to study the case.

On August 2, 2021, the defence lawyer sought another adjournment, asking the prosecution to recall all witnesses.

There were at least three other adjournments for different reasons, but the matter was fixed for hearing for three consecutive days starting on March 14, 2022.

The accused jumped bail on March 16, and an arrest warrant was issued as the defence lawyer withdrew his services.

Ms Eymoi was arrested on March 26, 2022 in Moyale as she attempted to cross into Ethiopia.

In his ruling, Mr Mukabi stated that the accused person’s defence consisted largely of mere denials that could not shake the corroborated and strong chain of evidence by the prosecution.

“The court record is also clear that when the accused was first arraigned before this court for plea taking on April 22, 2021, she unequivocally admitted being in possession of the subject rifle, only to later backtrack the same when the matter was deferred for facts a week later,” Mr Mukabi said.

In her defence, Ms Eymoi said she was arrested because of abandoning her children and not because of the firearm. She denied all the charges, alleging that she had been framed.

She faced three charges, including illegal possession of a firearm, illegal possession of ammunition and entering Kenya through an illegal point.

“The upshot of the matter is that I proceed to enter a plea of guilty on behalf of the accused on counts one and two. The accused is convicted on those two counts and is acquitted on the third count,” Mr Mukabi concluded.

She will serve 20 years for illegal possession of a firearm and 10 years for illegal possession of 13 rounds of ammunition.

The custodial sentence will run concurrently from March 31, 2022 when she was remanded.

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