Prof Hassan Nandwa

Prof Hassan Nandwa. 

| Pool

Hassan Nandwa abduction: Lawyers go for Fred Matiangi, Karanja Kibicho

The law society has given an ultimatum to President Uhuru Kenyatta to sack three top government officials in charge of national security over rising abductions and enforced disappearances.

Meanwhile, Muslims are planning a series of protests against rights violations against members of their faith.

The developments follow the release of Prof Hassan Nandwa, the lawyer who vanished 11 days ago, by his captors on Monday morning.

Prof Nandwa was dumped by his captors, suspected to be state security agents, in Mwingi, Kitui County.

The lawyer’s family confirmed that he was dumped in Mwingi at 1am.

The Muslim scholar then walked to his relative’s home in Mwingi and is yet to speak to anyone about his ordeal.

He represented terror convict Elgiva Bwire, who is also missing.

Kamiti Maximum Prison

Mr Bwire was freed from Kamiti Maximum Prison on Thursday October 28, after serving 10 years for a terror attack, but was abducted alongside his cousin on their way to Eastleigh. They have not been seen since.

Speaking from Mwingi, Mr Elmiqdad Hassan, the lawyer’s son, said his father had no visible signs of physical torture but was “very shaken and traumatised”.

“He is not yet ready to talk to anyone,” Mr Hassan told the Nation.

Following his release, the Law Society of Kenya (LSK) on Monday gave given President Kenyatta a 30-day ultimatum to sack Interior CS Fred Matiang’i, his PS Karanja Kibicho and Inspector General of Police Hilary Mutyambai over the increasing abductions, or be sued.

Speaking at Jamia Mosque after the release of Prof Nandwa, LSK Nairobi branch chairman Erick Theuri said the buck stops with the three officials.

He accused them of not speaking against the abductions, and for allegedly overseeing a rogue unit of law enforcement officers who are not held to account for their illegal actions.

Human rights

“They have failed and they need to go for presiding over a law enforcement regime that has no regard for human rights. As the President prepares to hand over power, he should ensure that he leaves behind a team that respects religious, economic and political differences, otherwise we shall proceed to court to sue the President and the Attorney General,” said Mr Theuri.

The LSK maintained that anyone arrested on suspicion of committing a crime has the right to be presented in court and to be represented by a lawyer.

“We will not accept the trend that we are observing in Kenya today of terror and robbery with violence suspects being shot and killed and others abducted as opposed to being arraigned in court. We shall fight to have the Constitution upheld,” said Mr Theuri.

And starting this Friday, Muslims in the country will embark on a series of protests against the abductions.

The protests that will be held every Friday will go on until action has been taken against law enforcement officers who have been accused of being behind the abductions allegedly committed on grounds of fighting terrorism.

Muslim leaders and civil society organisations vowed to fight to ensure that the lives of Muslims and other Kenyans are protected in the wake of the increased abductions.

“We will not relent (in the search) for justice. Muslims are not second class citizens and we will strongly stand out and fight for our constitutional rights through all legal means,” they said in a statement.

Prof Nandwa’s disappearance saw many civil society groups, as well as the Law Society of Kenya (LSK) put pressure on the government to release the lawyer.

“We have been informed by the family that the professor is safe and currently with their relative in Mwingi. However, we are concerned that Mr Bwire is still nowhere to be seen,” he told the Nation.

Brutal consequences

LSK has dispatched a lawyer to Mwingi to assist Prof Nandwa. He is reportedly weak, fearful and has likely been threatened not to speak to anyone, including the press and civil society groups about his experience, or else face brutal consequences.

“We spoke, but there is not much information about where he was. We are giving him time to settle and heal and probably seek medical attention,” said the society’s CEO, Ms Mercy Wambua.

Lawyers, through the LSK, previously pointed an accusing finger at security agents over the abduction.

In court, they argued that the disappearance of the lawyer and the ex-prisoner are closely intertwined. A court had last week issued an order for Prof Nandwa and Mr Bwire to be produced in court within 24 hours.

Justice Anthony Mrima had also ordered telco Safaricom to produce Prof Nandwa's call logs before court.

The data was to enable tracing of his movements before he disappeared and provide clues on who was holding him.

Plainclothes police officers raided Prof Nandwa's home the same night he disappeared.

“All this should not have happened in the first place. We have not heard anything about his client. My father is visibly shaken and we suspect he was threatened against talking about his unlawful detention,” Mr Hassan said.

Police Spokesperson Bruno Shioso on Monday said the police are yet to receive any information from the professor’s family regarding his resurfacing.

“I spoke to the Kitui County Commander and they have no such report. It would have been nice if they informed the police. I am aware of this incident through the media, but have no official record showing that he has been found,” Mr Shioso said.

Prof Nandwa’s abduction and release come barely six weeks after the abduction and reappearance of businessman Abdulhakim Salim Sagar and scholar Abdiwahab Sheikh Abdiswamad, who also declined to speak about their experiences in captivity.

Mr Sagar was missing for nearly one month, while Dr Abdiswamad spent 10 days in detention for “questioning”.

Supreme Council of Muslims in Kenya boss Hassan Ole Naado, recently cautioned the government against treating Muslims like terror suspects.

According to Missing Voices Kenya, more than 133 people have either been killed or disappeared this year alone.

Since 2017, more than 1,000 people have faced a similar fate in the hands of security agencies with only a handful 28 of them with cases before court.

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