BY VINCENT AGOYA
Inasmuch as the order of Habeus Corpus remains important in securing the release of any person held in unlawful custody, without legal justification, its application in courts in assisting families who are grieving over abductions and disappearances of kin remains a mirage.
The family of a man reportedly abducted in Isiolo moved to court mid May seeking orders to compel the Kenya Wildlife Service to disclose his whereabouts.Mr Mohammmed Sheikh Abdullahi’s wife, Miriam, and their four children, believed their kin was in the custody of a KWS ranger and wanted the director Mr William Kiprono summoned to court over the abduction after he was reportedly trailed and ” arrested” by rangers.
The cleric was reportedly abducted along Meru-Isiolo road near Kenya Methodist University while in the company of a relative.His wife stated in an affidavit that KWS “was unhappy with him for bailing out an uncle, Ibrahim Abdi, who has been linked to poaching and the illegal trade in Ivory.”
Their lawyer Mr Gitobu Imanyara told trial judge Ngenye Macharia that a ranger adversely mentioned in the proceedings should also be summoned for cross examination “ as he was the last person to be seen in the company of the Sheikh.”
The family also wanted the police to file a report in court in connection with the investigations carried out since the matter was reported to the CID in Meru.
Mr Imanyara told the court that the disappearance had already been reported to police for investigations, and that the police were able to establish that on June 23 at around 5.17pm Mr Abdullahi was in the company of a ranger idetified as Korir “before both of their phones went off.”
He said the police had gathered the phone data after the family reported their kin’s disappearance.
“The police have fully cooperated with us , we are now requesting that this interested party (Mr Korir) be cross examined and secondly that the DPP files a comprehensive response to this suit,” Mr Imanyara had charged during the Habeas Corpus proceedings.
Mr Imanyara said “we are dealing with a serious matter where a citizen has disappeared in full view of his family and all we are getting is denial from the state.”
The judge then ordered KWS, a state organ to come on record and that the police explain, in 10 days, what steps have been taken since the matter was reported to them but that was as afar as the matter went. Sheikh Has never been traced to date.
A lawyer who appeared for KWS in rebuttal said that the parastatal has collaborated with the police who have told them that the case has not been reported to them adding that “a public inquest”was the best was to unravel the mystery.
Meanwhile a representative of the DPP also sought time to find out what ” the police have done so far.”
In a another case that captured media headlines at the end of 2015 the state was been given 21 days to explain the whereabouts of a businessman who had been missing for four months after allegedly being arrested by police arrested in Garissa.
He added that for the four months that the man’s kin have visited the aforesaid places they have been met with open hostility and “now seek the courts intervention.”
They however acknowledge reports being made that the “so and so was reported missing missing as per OB number this and that…..:”
Lawyers have been pushing that the respondents’ agents appear in court in person to show cause why their kin cannot be “released or rather traced.”
According to the lawyer judges have largely failed in their mandate to compel and put the state to task over cases of missing persons.”