DISMISSED

Tanzanian man who confessed to being Shabaab loses appeal

He will continue serving 15 years in jail after Court of Appeal dismissed appeal

In Summary

• Appelant says he was arrested on August 12, 2025, but was not arraigned till August 14 which was more than the 24-hour period stipulated in the Constitution. 

• But prosecution said Shaban was found in Garissa at 4pm on August 12, 2015, and he was arraigned on August 14 that year, which was within the 24-hour period. 

The Court of Appeal. /Monicah Mwangi
The Court of Appeal. /Monicah Mwangi

A Tanzanian man who was sentenced to 15 years in jail for being a member of a terror group in Garissa has lost a bid to overturn the sentence and be repatriated after the Appeal Court dismissed his case. 

Musa Shaban was in 2015 convicted by a trial court after he pleaded guilty of being recruited to join al Shabaab militia, an outlawed terrorist group. 

The court heard that he openly confessed to be a member of the group at Garissa police station. 

 

He, however, appealed at the High Court but lost, leading to the second appeal at the Appeal court. 

Appellate judges P Ouko, Kathurima M’inoti and Agnes Murgor ruled that the trial court had exercised its discretion in imposing the sentence. 

“The High Court upheld the sentence, we have no jurisdiction to interfere with the lawful sentence of the courts below," the judges ruled.  

As a consequence, this appeal fails, and is hereby dismissed, the court ruled. 

Through his lawyer Chacha Mwita, Shaban submitted that his right to a fair trial was violated as he was arrested on August 12, 2015, but was not arraigned till August 14 which was more than the 24-hour period stipulated in the Constitution. 

Counsel also submitted that in openly professing to have been a member of a terrorist group, Shaban was, in fact, making a confession; and that the manner in which it was taken was not in accordance with the provisions of the law.

Further, it was submitted, despite his right to legal representation, the trial court failed to inform him of his right to counsel, particularly while making his confession.

 

 It was also asserted that the court proceedings were not conducted in a language that he understood and that the proceedings were conducted predominantly in the Somali language, his tongue. 

On the sentence, the appellant complained that the courts below did not take into account his mitigation that he was seeking the assistance of the police, and had they done so, they would instead have fined him and repatriated him back to Tanzania. 

Opposing the appeal, the prosecution counsel submitted that with respect to the alleged violation of the appellant’s right to be brought to court within 24 hours, the court had variously stated that the complaint does not in all case give rise to a right to an acquittal, but to a claim in damages.

Nevertheless, the prosecution said Shaban was found in Garissa at 4pm on August 12, 2015, and he was arraigned on August 14 that year, which was within the 24-hour period. 

The prosecution concluded that the confession was properly taken by the police, as was the plea before the trial court. 

The court heard that Shaban told officers at the Garissa police station that on his way from Tanzania, he had lost his money and required assistance.  

He was soon arrested when it was suspected that he was on his way to Somalia.

“It became apparent that he had been recruited by Shabaab and was on his way to Somalia to undergo training. He confessed as much in a statement taken by Chief Inspector Luckyton Mudavadi," the judgement reads.

In his mitigation, he admitted that he was Tanzanian and was headed to Somalia but had decided to return to Tanzania. 

As he did not have any money, he sought assistance from the police. He requested leniency and to be repatriated. 

Edited by R.Wamochie