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February 25, 2018

I will be back, vows Miguna

NASA's Miguna Miguna addresses the media at Okoa Kenya offices on February 1, 2018. /JACK OWUOR
NASA's Miguna Miguna addresses the media at Okoa Kenya offices on February 1, 2018. /JACK OWUOR

From "The Come, Baby Come", Miguna warns, “I will be back.”

Combative lawyer-politician Miguna Miguna who was forced out of the country on Tuesday night has said he is a Kenyan by birth and will be back.

"No one will take away my constitutional right," he declared, vowing to mount a titanic legal battle to recover his confiscated Kenyan passport.

As Miguna issued a statement during an Amsterdam stopover on his flight to Canada, back home, his deportation kicked up a huge storm over the government's action.

Read: Miguna’s days in police cells were full of drama and insults, say cops

In response, the government yesterday issued a statement saying Kenyans who lost their citizenship as a result of acquiring other nationalities before enactment of the 2010 Constitution were required to reapply for citizenship.

“Miguna never did this and therefore continued being a Canadian citizen,” claimed Interior ministry spokesman Mwenda Njoka.

The new Constitution does not specify if Kenyans need to do so.

The government statement faulted late Immigration minister Otieno Kajwang', for ordering that Miguna be issued with a Kenyan passport in 2009 without due process. “At the time Miguna was unlawfully issued a Kenyan passport he was working as an adviser to then Prime Minister Raila Odinga,” the statement said.

“When Miguna acquired a Kenyan passport in March 2009, he deliberately failed to disclose the fact  he had acquired citizenship of another country and therefore the Kenyan passport he acquired then was and still remains illegal.”

The government explained that Miguna left Kenya in 1988 using travel documents. A year before, as a student leader at the University of Nairobi, Miguna had been barred from traveling to Cuba at the height of single-party repression. He was subsequently expelled from the university before fleeing into exile in Canada where he obtained citizenship.

On Monday, the Canadian High Commission in Nairobi wrote to the government, seeking access to Miguna amidst rising fears about his health and whereabouts.

“The High Commission of Canada requests immediate consular access to the Canadian citizen as required by Article 36 of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations,” it said to Kenya's Foreign Ministry.

The Commission said it had tried in vain to obtain information from the police, amidst reports of Miguna’s deteriorating health. The Commission had attempted to visit Miguna at Lari police station on Sunday after receiving reports  he was being denied access to lawyers and was being mistreated. The commission says the police officer refused to identify himself or confirm Miguna’s status.

Miguna's deportation triggered heated debate on social media, with some condemning and others supporting his expulsion after being held incommunicado by police for five days.

Some lawyers and human rights crusaders warned that the country was sliding into a dictatorship.

“We are rapidly retrogressing to the dark painful eras of our past," warned the state-funded Kenya National Commission on Human Rights.

In its advisory to the government yesterday, KNCHR asked Interior CS Fred Matiang'i to operate strictly within the law and stop issuing unconstitutional orders.
      “The office of the DPP should seize its functions under Article 157 of the Constitution and direct the Police IG to investigate any allegations of criminal conduct within the strict confines of the law,” KNHCR chair Kagwiria Mbogori said.
          “In addition, this office is the sole organ that institutes criminal proceedings against civilians and being officers of the court must effectively facilitate the respect and the rule of law in such proceedings.”

The Judiciary, which has been at the center of the row over court orders, came out in defence of the rule of law.

Chief Justice David Maraga said that disregard of Court orders is not only a violation of the Constitution but a dereliction of public duty by state officers.

And in a strongly worded editorial, The Washington Post, one of the most influential US newspapers, asked President Donald Trump to impose sanctions on the Kenyan government.

"The Trump administration should warn him (Uhuru) of US punitive actions, including sanctions, if he does not stop," the editorial board said on February 6.

Miguna was forced into a KLM flight to Amsterdam on Tuesday night after a day of high drama.

He had first been presented in a Kajiado court and charged with consenting to the commission of an act of treason by Raila Odinga (the swearing in) and participating in an unlawful assembly. He refused to plead to the charges and demanded to be taken before High Court Judge Luka Kimaru, who had ordered the police to produce him.

The Magistrate ordered Miguna be taken to Nairobi but the Police duped the court and spirited him to the airport, where Miguna says he was kept for five hours.

In court, the judge ordered that Miguna who was absent be freed, and when challenged by his lawyers, opted to wait in his chambers until the police complied.

After waiting for hours in vain for the police to comply with his order, he issued fresh orders late in the evening, prohibiting Miguna’s prosecution in any court in the country until he is produced before him. Two hours later, Miguna was spotted on a KLM flight being deported to Canada.

As Miguna was sent to exile, Henry Mien, another Raila ally and member of the Opposition strategy team, was reportedly blocked from traveling to Berlin, Germany.

Sources said Mien had his passport confiscated at JKIA, although he was not among the 15 NASA personalities whose passports were suspended on Tuesday.

“He was told the passport cannot be used and they confiscated it. We suspect the list of people whose passports were suspended is bigger,” a Raila ally told the Star.

The government is suspected to have suspended passports of about 40 Kenyans allied to NASA.

 

Challenge

Legal experts poked holes in the government’s narrative that Miguna was not a Kenyan citizen. They questioned how Miguna was cleared to run for Nairobi contest for Nairobi governor last year and how he was registered as a voter.

The Constitution limits voting or contesting in a general election to Kenyan citizens.

The absurdly unlawful deportation of Miguna Miguna is a travesty of justice. Let's defend our liberties. If we condone these illegalities, future generations wont forgive us,” protested former political detainee Koigi Wamwere.

The 2010 Constitution accepts dual citizenship under Article 16, and a citizen by birth cannot lose their nationality by acquiring that of another country.

“Under Article 16 , a Kenyan by birth even if a dual citizen, can never lose his citizenship,” explained lawyer Donald Kipkorir. “Under Article 17, a foreigner who acquired Kenyan citizenship can lose it. Miguna’s deportation violates our Constitution.”

Miguna was born in Magina village, Kisumu county.He went to Apondo Primary, Onjiko High school and University of Nairobi before fleeing into exile.

Immediately after landing in Amsterdam,  the defiant, self-declared NRM general was fighting back.

Terming Uhuru and his Deputy William Ruto s despots, Miguna narrated how he was “treated as a beast” since his  arrest on Friday last week.

“I have been treated as a beast. I was given food twice. I was not allowed to sleep and kept standing for more than 24 hours,” Miguna told the BBC.

In an interview published in Canadian news magazine Macleans, Miguna's wife, Jane Miguna, said she feared her husband had been murdered.

“That really worried me, because the (Canadian) High Commissioner was not even able to get information from the Kenyan government to assure her that they are holding him and he’s alive. They just say they are aware of the case and they are working on it.”

Miguna said he never renounced his Kenyan citizenship and his deportation was illegal and a violation of his rights.

“The Constitution is crystal clear: no one can invalidate or purport to cancel the citizenship of a Kenyan-born citizen. So, Matiang’i has no authority — and I didn’t request him to “take me home” as he shamelessly claimed,” he said.

“Even if one had intended to deport me anywhere for whatever reasons, there are well laid legal procedures that must be followed and fundamental rights that must be upheld but which Matiang’i and his illegitimate thugs have violated,” Miguna went on.

Also read: Where is Miguna? Raila leads vigil at Milimani courts as questions fly

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