Hopes of unmasking the people who abducted Muslim cleric Sheikh Abdiwahab Abdisamad in Nairobi slightly over a week continued to fade Thursday.
This was after the Nation established that the owner of the Toyota Hilux double-cabin pick-up used by four armed to abduct Mr Abdisamad on Tubman road nine days ago could not be traced.
Mr Abdiwahab was kidnapped last week on Wednesday while going about his business on Tubman road in the city by four men in a white pick-up, registration number KCW 341Y.
Although state security agencies did not respond to our queries on the cleric’s whereabouts, the Nation established that the registration details of the vehicle, which would have provided clues as to who abducted Mr Abdiwahab, had seemingly disappeared from government records.
Registration number non-existent
A search on the National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA) and the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) portals by the Nation established that the registration number was non-existent.
The chassis numbers and registration details of all vehicles are supposed to be stored in the KRA and the NTSA databases, even for cars that are no longer in use.
It is known, however, that cars with registration numbers that do not reflect anywhere in the two government agencies’ databases are routinely used for covert security operations.
Ideally, even if the registration number (KCW 341Y) of the double-cabin pick-up used to kidnap Sheikh Abdiwahab was fake, a search would have yielded the owner of another vehicle with the same number plate. The fact that it did not may lend credence to fears that the cleric could have been kidnapped by state agencies.
This was not the first time this was happening.
Another search by the Nation using the registration number of a vehicle reportedly used to abduct a Mombasa businessman last month also drew a blank report.
Mr Abdulhakim Salim Sagar was abducted by four men in a black Toyota Hilux registration number KBQ 035C after coming from prayers at Kuze in Mombasa old town – in front of his wife and children.
Ongoing terror case
Mr Sagar, who is a cousin of Hanniya Sagar, the wife of slain Islamic preacher Aboud Rogo, already had an ongoing terror case after being charged in 2018 with possession of terror-related materials.
The state had initially said it had arrested the businessperson and would produce him in a court of law on fresh charges, only to turn around and report they were treating his as a case of a missing person.
“We are treating this particular incident as a case of a missing person and security officers are actually helping the family locate their kin,” Coast regional police boss Manasse Musyoka said in an affidavit after Mr Sagar’s family sued the state demanding that their kin be produced dead or alive.
“The owner of the vehicle registration number KBQ 035C, which was allegedly used to abduct Mr Sagar, is not yet known. The vehicle has not been found to date,” said Mr Musyoka.
The Nation could also not find registration number KBQ 035C on both the KRA and the NTSA databases.
How could two vehicles of eerily similar make, which were reportedly used to kidnap two men within a span of one month, vanish from government databases?
Those in the know said the vehicles could either have never been registered, which is very unlikely, or a powerful person may have ordered that the numbers be erased to frustrate attempts to find out who kidnapped the two men.
Last weekend, DCI George Kinoti assured the leadership of the Supreme Council of Kenyan Muslims that the agency was already investigating the disappearance of Sheikh Abdiwahab and would give answers within seven days.
The seven days end today (Friday) and the Sheikh is still missing and the police have chosen to remain silent.
Thursday, the Sheikh’s family continued to pile pressure on the government, demanding his immediate release.
“The family is doing everything they can to locate Mr Abdiwahab and will inform the public of their next plan, which will involve nationwide protests if he is not released immediately,” said the family in a statement.
“On the same note the family wishes to dispel claims that Mr Abdiwahab has been found and urges anyone spreading the false and misleading rumours to stop,” said the family.