ESPIONAGE?

State probes lawyers, politicians for Somali spying link

Some have worked for government institutions and senior state officials

In Summary

• Those under probe could be charged with espionage.

• Mandera Governor Ali Roba has travelled to Nairobi for a security meeting in the wake of fighting between SNA and Jubaland forces.

Somali President Mohamed Farmajo, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed after a meeting at State House Nairobi on March 6, 2019 to discuss extensively on the source of the Kenya-Somalia border dispute.
Somali President Mohamed Farmajo, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed after a meeting at State House Nairobi on March 6, 2019 to discuss extensively on the source of the Kenya-Somalia border dispute.
Image: PSCU

The government is investigating several politicians including MCAs from Northern Kenya and top lawyers for allegedly spying for the Somali government and al Shabaab.

The lawyers under probe have worked for government agencies and senior state officials. 

There are concerns that they could be passing sensitive and confidential information to the terror group and the Somali government.

 

The politicians are said to on the payroll of both the Somali government and al Shaabab which has been attacking and killing non-local teachers.

 
 

Some of those under probe served in key positions in government and have maintained high-level contacts in both countries even after losing political seats.

The investigations began after 11 MPs from Wajir and Mandera travelled to Somalia and met President Mohamed Farmajo and intelligence chiefs without clearance from Parliament and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The 11 MPs have said they went to Mogadishu to discuss a solution to the al Shabab menace.

Kenya and Somalia have had a long-standing relationship that was boosted in 2016 when the two countries signed a Joint Commission for Cooperation.

The cooperation agreement, renewable every five years, provides a legal and technical framework for engagement and promotion of diplomatic relations.

Nairobi is upset that Mogadishu has bypassed the official channels of engagement and decided to talk to individuals, some whom come from one clan in Northeastern Kenya.

Multiple sources say the Somali government, through its National Intelligence and Security Agency (NISA) initiated the secret talks with political leaders from Mandera, Garissa and Wajir counties. 

 

“Some of the MCAs have been used to instigate protests against the Kenyan government for allegedly meddling in Somali government’s affairs,” a county commissioner from one of the counties said.

 
 

Nairobi is also unhappy that Somalia decided to pursue conflict resolution at the International Court of Justice and the United Nation’s security council over the maritime dispute.

Kenya has been on a high alert after Mogadishu attacked Jubaland forces in Gedo near Mandera.

Nairobi helped create and install a government in Jubaland which is led by Sheik Ahmed Madobe. 

Yesterday Mandera county was restive following heavy fighting between Somali National Army and Jubaland Forces on Monday.

One man died at Mandera County Referral Hospital where he had been admitted with gunshot wounds.

 
 

The man was in military uniform but hospital staff could not immediately establish his nationality.

Health CEC Mohamud Mohammed said 10 people were also admitted at the facility but none was in serious condition.

“Among those admitted is a woman and her four-year-old child. Two are Kenya Police Reservists who were injured while patrolling the border,” he said.

Hundreds of residents have fled their homes over rising tensions between SNA troops and Jubaland forces.

The county’s Chief of Staff David Ohito told the Star Governor Ali Roba had travelled to Nairobi for a security meeting in the wake of renewed fighting at the common border.

“He (Roba) will be issuing a statement on the same any time,” Ohito said.

He reiterated that residents living near the border have fled their homes fearing there could be more crossfire.

“Nonetheless, the National Police Service and the Kenya Defence Forces have intensified patrols at the border and on the streets,” he added.

Meanwhile, House Speaker Justin Muturi has clarified that the 11 MPs who went to Somalia did not visit the neighbouring country as a parliamentary delegation.

Muturi said the MPs would not face any sanctions for their trip to Mogadishu to meet President Mohamed Farmajo and intelligence chiefs.

“It is however important that state officers live up to Chapter Six of the Constitution on Leadership and Integrity. The MPs needed to notify the Speaker whether they travelled on official or private capacities,” he said.

He said the requirement to notify the Speaker of any intended travel outside Kenya is provided for in the Standing Orders as a matter of civility, good order.

It is also meant to ensure that the Office of the Speaker can, at all times, account for the whereabouts of legislators out of the country.

“For the avoidance of doubt, there is no requirement compelling members of this House to seek consent to undertake private travels.

“Similarly, there is not a requirement for official parliamentary delegations to obtain the consent of other offices, save for that of the Speaker, to undertake official travels,” Muturi said.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs had indicated that it was not aware of the trip by the lawmakers from Wajir and Mandera counties.

The MPs were grilled by detectives on arrival at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport.

They said the trip was in the interest of regional peace and stability.

The lawmakers said that they did not require authorisation from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

There were claims that Somalia’s leadership lobbied the MPs to push Kenya to stop supporting President Madobe in Jubaland.

Kenya sent a diplomatic protest note to Mogadishu following the secret meeting between President Farmajo and the MPs

It is understood that apart from Kenya’s support for Madobe, Mogadishu is also unhappy that Nairobi is yet to hand over an ex-Jubaland minister who escaped from detention in Mogadishu.

 

(edited by O. Owino)