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Tuesday, January 9th, 2018

 

Flood of needy students casts dark cloud over free secondary learning

By NATION TEAM
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The high number of needy students seeking assistance from well-wishers to pay their secondary schools fees has cast a dark cloud over the much-hyped free day secondary school that the Jubilee administration promised Kenyans.

For the past one week, the media has been awash with appeals from hundreds of needy students who fear they might not report to their respective schools by Friday for lack of fees.

And to respond to their requests, well-wishers have come forward in droves, promising to help  the students secure admissions to schools where they have been invited

This week, a girl who scored 373 marks in the 2017 Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) examinations at Kalimakoi Primary School in Makueni County had to be counselled at Makindu Sub-County Hospital after she contemplated committing suicide in protest over her parent’s inability to enrol her in a secondary school.

The 14-year-old topped in the school and region and had been invited to join Mama Ngina Girls High School in Mombasa.

On Tuesday, acting Education Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i insisted that education in day secondary schools was free. He advised public day secondary schools not to charge any levies on learners for whatever reason.

Dr Matiang’i said the government was now paying tuition and its related activities for all students and no school should unilaterally impose any levy on day scholars. Parents should meet and agree on how their children would get lunch while at the school, he advised.

Dr  Matiang’i said this when he toured Jamhuri High School, Ngara Girls High school and Kenya High School in Nairobi County to monitor the process of admission of Form Ones into secondary schools.

But even as it puts on a brave face that there is free day secondary education, the government is at the same time, asking students from needy families to seek financial assistance from alternative government and private interventions.

The financial support can come from the National Government Constituency Development Fund (NGCDF), county government bursary funds, Equity Bank Foundation, Jomo Kenyatta Foundation, Kenya Commercial Bank Foundation and Cooperative Bank, among other charities, it says.

“With assistance from all these interventions, the ministry wishes to advise all Form One students to be ready to report to the schools they have been selected, to join,” said Education Principal Secretary Belio Kipsang’ on Sunday.

But despite thousands of students applying for these scholarships, only a handful get opportunities.

This year alone, there were 1,000 beneficiaries of the Equity Bank’s Wings to Fly initiative, bringing the total number to 19,005 since its inception but those who were left out were more.

In the Supplementary Budget passed in October 2017, the government allocated Sh5 billion as conditional grants to cater for secondary schools’ infrastructure development programme to be administered through the NGCDF. The amount was for construction of new classrooms and bursaries.

DAY SCHOLARS

According to the new fees guidelines, for national boarding schools, parents are required to pay Sh53, 554 as the government chips in with Sh22,244, which amount to Sh75,798 per student a year. Extra county boarding schools charge Sh40,535 as the government pays Sh22,244, adding up to Sh62,779 per student a year.

Day scholars are only required to buy uniforms and lunch.

However, it is not a free walk in schools as the government wants Kenyans to believe. For instance, a school in Nairobi has asked parents for an extra Sh19, 000 for provisions given in schools.

Another day school in Busia County is asking parents for Sh10,000 for lunch and Sh500 as caution money. In Term One, the students are required to pay Sh6,500, Sh3,000 for second term and Sh1,000 for third term.

According to a circular by Dr Kipsang’ last year, parents are required to fund infrastructure projects in schools upon approval by county education boards. The charges must be determined by boards of management and parents associations but subject to approval by the government.

The government is also providing core textbooks to students.

However, some principals argue that students taking subjects such as history and government and design, among others, will still need those books.

“If you do not want extra charges, who will buy extra books for students?” asked a principal, insisting that the idea was good but there was need to agree on what free education entails.

National Parents Association chairman Nicholas Maiyo, however, said the government should not hesitate to take action against school heads who ignore the directives.

“Most school heads have been doing business with parents. Even with new Form Ones reporting, some schools are asking for academic improvement funds and money for foreign trips for top national schools and this must stop,” said Mr Maiyo.

Kenya Secondary School Heads Association chairman Kahi Indimuli said with 100 per cent transition, parents must be ready to pay more to sustain their children in school.

“Schools have major projects that need to be concluded on time. They will need classrooms, toilets and desks, among other things,” Mr Indimuli said, adding that county education boards should move around schools for feasibility studies.


Outcry as pupils told to report with desks

By ERIC MATARA
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Parents seeking Standard One admission for their children at a school in Kuresoi North have complained of a requirement that pupils report with desks.

Moto Primary School administration, however, says the requirement is due to lack of CDF funding.

According to headteacher Joseph Mungai, the institution’s problems stem from its location.

The school is at the boundary of Molo and Kuresoi North constituencies, making it hard for it to get support from either Molo or Kuresoi North constituencies.

“Our school is administratively in Kuresoi North but it is under Molo in terms of education issues. Lack of funding has made it difficult to run the school affairs,” said Mr Mungai.

He urged Kuresoi North MP Moses Cheboi and his Molo counterpart, Kuria Kimani, to help fund the school.

The school introduced the requirement three years ago.

Mr John Kamau, a parent, told Nation the school has poor infrastructure.

“We are forced to part with close to Sh2,000 to acquire desks from local carpenters. We call upon our MP, Moses Cheboi, to come to the aid of the institution,” he said.

Ms Jesca Gesare, a parent, said the requirement is a burden to most parents.

“Why are we left to shoulder the burden when there are constituency funds that can help even in construction of more classrooms?” she asked.


New plans put to test as Form One admission starts

By NATION TEAM
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Students joining Form One started reporting yesterday as the government rolls out the free day secondary education.

All the students reporting to boarding and day secondary schools have a Friday deadline to have reported, according to acting Education Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i who visited Kenya High, Ngara Girls and Jamhuri High schools to oversee the progress of student admission.

Opening of day wings in national schools, specifically in Nairobi, is part of the Education ministry’s plan to ensure all students who completed Class Eight in 2017 are absorbed into secondary schools.

The day wings will be gradually rolled out in national schools in other counties in coming years.

DAY LEARNERS

At State House Girls School, those in the boarding section were admitted Tuesday while day learners are expected to report Wednesday.

Deputy Principal in charge of academics Wamocha Khakane said the ministry allocated 336 slots for boarders and an additional 110 for day learners. “We are now forced to have eight streams in Form One to accommodate the day students,” said Mr Khakane.

At Kenya High School, another national school, more than 200 students were admitted, according to Principal Flora Mulatya. The school has received funds for the free secondary education and textbooks.

“The government has already put into our accounts the funds for free secondary education while also increasing the capitation,” she said.

But at Starehe Boys Centre, director Charles Masheti said they were not admitting day scholars until some administrative issues are sorted out. Nevertheless, 280 students were admitted to Form One.

Most parents who spoke to the Nation praised the free day secondary initiative, saying it had lessened the financial burden on them while others welcomed the ministry’s decision to buy textbooks.

Ms Christine Mwakio, whose daughter reported to Mama Ngina Girls High School in Mombasa, said fees was affordable.

“I am happy that the government has relieved us of the school fees. I paid Sh27,400 for the first term fees and I did not buy books,” she said.
NIGHT TRAVEL

The ban on night travel by the National Transport and Safety Authority, however, affected parents and students travelling to Mombasa. Those who made it to the schools complained of fatigue and additional expenses.

“I travelled all the way from Wajir to bring my daughter to Mama Ngina Girls. It was a three-day journey due to the ban,” said Saadia Jibril, a parent.

At Chuka Girls High School in Tharaka-Nithi County, the exercise, which involved inspection of academic materials and personal items and issuance of uniforms and bedding, started at 9am. But the principal, Ms Florence Mutwiri, said the school was yet to receive books.

In Nyeri, Mr Charles Wachira who accompanied his daughter to Muruguru Girls School, said the changes by the ministry will offer a level playing ground to all students. “Students can go to school without being locked out due to lack of school fees,” he said.

In North Rift, confusion marked the exercise in various public day secondary schools after parents were asked to pay for lunch and other expenses.

At Uasin Gishu High School, a parent said they had only been asked to pay for lunch. “The process is so far smooth. We have not been asked for any fees apart from the Sh8,000 for lunch for the whole year.

This has really eased the burden for us as parents,” said Mr Joel Wanyoike, a father of three.

Parents at Rurigi Secondary School took with them sacks of maize to cater for the lunch instead of cash. Mr Edward Wanjala, the school’s principal, said they had consulted with the parents and come to an agreement.

Similarly in Bungoma County, parents were forced to pay for lunch and other activities. A spot check at Namachanja High School showed that parents were paying Sh9,500 for the lunch. They were also supposed to pay for school uniforms.

“We thought that by enrolling our children in day secondary schools we will be exempted from payments. They should have said subsidised education not free education,” said Ms Robai Mang’oli, a parent.

In Nyanza, 100 students were enrolled to the Kisumu Day Secondary School, according to principal Daniel Mwaturo.

Elsewhere, secondary boarding schools in Kisii County said they were facing an accommodation challenge for the new students.

The principal of Nyabururu Girls High School Joyce Orioki said they were allocated 438 students by the Ministry, the highest number given to a secondary school in the county.

Reported by Collins Omulo, Rushdie Oudia, Benson Amadala, Elgar Machuka, Geoffrey Rono, Alex Njeru, Irene Mugo, Winnie Atieno, Stanley Kimuge, Philomen Suter and Titus Oteba


IEBC in eye of a storm as it begins reviewing boundaries

By PATRICK LANG’AT
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By GRACE GITAU
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The electoral agency will from this month face another storm over a planned review of boundaries, with politicians already agitating for more constituencies.

The exercise by Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission is expected to end a year to the 2022 General Election.

Kenya has 290 constituencies, up from 210 in the review completed in 2012, and 1,450 wards created during the same period — a figure some say is abnormally high.

“Common sense dictates that we should be reducing constituencies to not more than the 188 we had,” Prof Herman Manyora, a University of Nairobi don, said Tuesday.

Boundary reviews are emotive, a matter that IEBC boss Wafula Chebukati is aware of.

“Everything must be done to ensure the review does not polarise communities,” Mr Chebukati told the Nation early this week.

“We will engage the public at constituency and ward levels to create awareness and better understanding on boundary delimitation.”

Mr Chebukati said the commission was engaging stakeholders ahead of the start of the review.

The Constitution demands that boundaries of every constituency or ward be informed by population quota, a figure obtained by dividing the number of Kenyans by constituencies or wards.

In Tharaka-Nithi, a dispute has already broken out over a proposal by Ameru Professionals to change the name of the county to Meru South and that of Meru to Meru North.

Elected leaders have vehemently opposed the idea.

“We are comfortable with the name Tharaka-Nithi County as it defines our identity,” Governor Muthomi Njuki said in a statement on Monday.

In Nyeri, Senator Ephraim Maina is leading a drive to split Mathira and Kieni constituencies.

“Under the existing formula, Nyeri should have two more constituencies. Every area should be fairly represented,” the senator said.

Kieni MP Kanini Kega and his Mathira counterpart Rigathi Gachagua support the campaign, insisting that distribution of resources under the current system is unfair.

“Kieni, which is 52 per cent of Nyeri County, has the largest population but was given Sh81 million in the last financial year. That was the same amount allocated to Tetu,” Mr Kega said by phone.

Administratively, Kieni has two sub-counties: Kieni East and Kieni West.

Mathira is also divided into east and west.

With the census expected in 2019, Mr Kega has begun a campaign to encourage residents to return to their rural homes.

“The zeal the government showed during the voter registration should also be applied in the census,” he said.

However, Mr Gachagua described the talks as premature. “We should wait for IEBC to initiate the discussion,” he told the Nation.


Uhuru abused power in police changes, Raila claims

By JOHN NGIRACHU
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Opposition chief Raila Odinga has opened a new war front with President Uhuru Kenyatta, whom he accuses of abusing his powers by reshuffling top police officers last week.

In his first reaction to the changes announced by the President last Friday, Mr Odinga accused President Kenyatta of taking over the powers of the National Police Service Commission and the Independent Policing Oversight Authority in his appointment and deployment of the senior officers.

“The open recruitment further paints a pattern of systematic undermining of supposedly independent constitutional offices in a bid to cement dictatorship and resurrect personal rule,” Mr Odinga said in a statement that could form the basis of a fierce clash between opposition and Jubilee MPs when the National Assembly resumes next month.

In the changes, President Kenyatta redeployed Joel Kitili, Samuel Arachi and Ndegwa Muhoro, who were the heads of the regular police, the Administration Police and the Directorate of Criminal Investigations.

He replaced them with Edward Njoroge Mbugua, Noor Yarao Gabow and George Maingi Kinoti, respectively in an acting capacity.

The law, however, allows the President to redeploy senior officers before the conclusion of their terms of service. Section 17 of the National Police Service Act states: “The President may remove, retire or redeploy a Deputy Inspector-General at any time before the Deputy Inspector-General attains the age of retirement.”

The National Police Service Commission Act and its regulations also provide for the appointment of the senior officers in an acting capacity “provided that she or he meets the requirements for the position in question.”

The officers appointed in an acting capacity can only serve for half a year as the regulations state: “Appointments in an acting capacity shall not be for more than six months.”

All these changes to the laws were made through the controversial Security Laws Amendment Act of 2014, the passage of which was marred by violence and a legal challenge by the opposition.

The High Court struck out eight sections of the Act but retained the ones on human resource changes in the police.

President Kenyatta said as he announced the changes that he acted on the advice of the National Police Service Commission and had consulted the Inspector-General of Police Joseph Boinnet.

On Tuesday, Mr Odinga said the President is “sneaking back the imperial presidency and the personal rule that caused so much pain to this country,” a reference to the days under Daniel arap Moi when the police did the President’s bidding.

“The spirit of the Constitution and the mood of the people of Kenya is that the National Police Service and indeed all independent constitutional offices must remain independent particularly of the presidency and free from political interference,” said Mr Odinga.

“We do not hold any brief for any of police officers who have been dropped. We equally have nothing against the officers appointed to replace them. We, however, feel firmly that the spirit of our hard won Constitution must be respected and that nobody must sneak back into the country the personalisation of the State and its organs,” he added.

Mr Odinga said the public has a right to know why public officers are being hired or fired and wondered whether it was because they failed in their duties and how their replacements were identified.

When the laws were changed in December 2014, President Kenyatta seized the opportunity and nominated Mr Boinnet as Inspector-General at a time when the security sector had been overwhelmed by terror attacks by Al-Shabaab.

Keriako Tobiko, the first DPP under the Constitution, was said to have resigned and is one of three new Cabinet Secretary nominees, although his portfolio has not been made public.


Termina en Colombia el cese al fuego con el ELN sin acuerdo sobre su renovación

El Gobierno busca prorrogar la tregua bilateral y la guerrilla pide tiempo para renegociar

El cese al fuego bilateral entre el Gobierno de Colombia y la guerrilla del Ejército de Liberación Nacional (ELN) termina este martes sin un acuerdo sobre su renovación. El Ejecutivo de Juan Manuel Santos, como manifestó el propio presidente el fin de semana, busca prorrogar la tregua pactada el pasado septiembre en vísperas de la visita del Papa. Sin embargo, la organización insurgente más activa en el país tras la desmovilización de las FARC plantea ahora más exigencias al Estado.

Los equipos negociadores de ambas partes se reunieron el lunes en Quito, capital de Ecuador, para comenzar un nuevo ciclo de conversaciones. Todos manifestaron su disposición a reeditar el pacto. Pero el entendimiento sobre el fondo de la cuestión no es suficiente. El ELN dio este martes por terminado el alto el fuego. “Hoy, martes, a las 24 horas termina el cese, que tuvo una duración de 101 días”, afirmó el líder guerrillero encargado de los contactos con el Gobierno, Pablo Beltrán, que lanzó además una advertencia a las autoridades.

“Fuimos los que más colocamos para que este cese saliera adelante. Este es el balance que vamos a comenzar a mirar en la mesa. Quiere decir que otro cese el Gobierno, que supuestamente tiene voluntad política, más aliento, más fuerza, más que nosotros, tiene que colocar más que lo colocó en esta oportunidad, porque se trata de demostrar voluntad política”, dijo en Caracol Radio.

Desde octubre, cuando se inició la tregua, la tensión entre el Estado y el ELN no ha cesado y se han registrado varias violaciones del acuerdo por parte de esta guerrilla, que nació en 1964 casi al mismo tiempo que las FARC y tiene cerca de 2.000 combatientes. En estos tres meses murieron al menos 14 personas, según los cálculos del Centro de Recursos para el Análisis de Conflictos (Cerac), entre las que figura un gobernador indígena del departamento del Chocó, en el noroeste del país. En esa región, una de las más perjudicadas por el conflicto armado, opera la columna más descontrolada, el llamado Frente de Guerra Occidental Omar Gómez. Su comandante, conocido como Uriel, ordenó a sus hombres volver a las armas. “A todas nuestras unidades ya les fue orientado reactivar las actividades normales y están en posición”, comunicó.

El diálogo con el ELN, que empezó oficialmente en febrero de 2017, apenas ha tenido avances. El alto el fuego fue fruto del clima generado en septiembre por el viaje pastoral del papa Francisco. No obstante, las negociaciones se reanudan ahora con un nuevo impulso. Antes de Navidad, Santos nombró a un nuevo responsable de las conversaciones. Se trata de Gustavo Bell, exvicepresidente de Andrés Pastrana, que sustituye en el cargo a Juan Camilo Restrepo.

La Iglesia y Naciones Unidas, garantes de esa tregua, pidieron a las autoridades y a la insurgencia que preserven ahora “los logros obtenidos en materia de reducción de la violencia” y destacaron el “alivio humanitario” para las comunidades rurales. Manifestaron, además, “la necesidad de un acuerdo de cese al fuego más robusto que genere mayor confianza entre las partes y en la sociedad colombiana”.

La paz con el ELN supone para Colombia, junto con la lucha contra el narcotráfico, uno de los mayores retos para garantizar la convivencia en el campo. Las FARC ya han entregado las armas y concurrirán a las próximas elecciones, pero los acuerdos con la guerrilla más antigua de América no han sido suficientes para enterrar la violencia. Según los expertos, el proceso de negociación con esta organización, fundada sobre unos cimientos teóricos que mezclan marxismo y cristianismo, será lento y complicado. Su estructura, menos jerárquica que la de las FARC, no garantiza, por ejemplo, el cumplimiento estricto de las órdenes de sus dirigentes. La gestión de este desafío quedará, en cualquier caso, en manos del presidente que salga de las urnas en las elecciones de mayo.


Uhuru, Ruto downplay split claims in Cabinet formation

By DAVID MUCHUI
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By ISABEL GITHAE
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President Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto have downplayed reports that they are split over the formation of the Cabinet, saying outsiders are trying to divide them.

Speaking during the funeral service of three African Independent Pentecostal Church of Africa bishops who died in a grisly accident at Wamumu on the Embu-Nairobi Road on December 29, the President said there were outsiders keen on dividing them.

This is after Mr Ruto and a section of Jubilee politicians maintained that they had given the President space to form his government, with the DP saying he cannot dictate to President Kenyatta who sits in the Cabinet.

POLITICIANS

He said that “as the principal assistant of the President,” he was giving the President space to appoint Cabinet secretaries and form the government.

“We spent the entire 2017 on electioneering that benefited politicians. We will have short-changed Kenyans if we continue talking about issues that will benefit politicians. This is the time to discuss what will change the lives of 40 million Kenyans. We will be con artists if we keep on discussing positions,” Mr Ruto said.

The DP said all Jubilee leaders were keen on helping the President to fulfil his growth agenda.

“No one has the authority to supervise the President in his constitutional mandate. We should all be ready to fulfil the transformational agenda of Jubilee,” Mr Ruto said.

There have been media reports that Mr Ruto was unhappy with the Cabinet line-up released by President Kenyatta last Friday, citing his absence during the announcement as a sign of the tension.

President Kenyatta retained six CSs and nominated three new ones, leaving 13 others in limbo.

In Meru, leaders including Governor Kiraitu Murungi took the opportunity to assure the President of their support while urging him to pick someone from the region.

However, Igembe North MP Maoka Maore said the Meru would be comfortable with whoever the President finds fit to serve in the Cabinet. While hitting out at politicians for playing politics at funerals, President Kenyatta said his administration was now focused on development.

“We used to be respectful of bereaved families in the past. We should not talk politics at funerals. We will have a time for politics. We do not want to divide the people. Do not allow outsiders to cause division among you.

‘‘You have seen people inciting divisions between me and Mr Ruto but we have stood our ground. We have left them to speak from outside,” Mr Kenyatta said.

The late bishops Philip Kubai (Ntonyiri), Stanley Karuru (Igembe Central) and Moses M’Eruri (Igembe South) will be buried in church compounds within their respective dioceses.


Eight Kisii MPs oppose Raila oath

By SAMWEL OWINO
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A section of MPs drawn mainly from Kisii and Nyamira Counties have distanced themselves from the swearing in of Nasa leader Raila Odinga as the “‘People’s President” slated for January 30.

The eight lawmakers led by Richard Onyonka (Kitutu Chache, Ford-K) said they recognise President Uhuru Kenyatta as duly elected and therefore no other person should assume the office.

Addressing a press conference at Parliament buildings Tuesday, the legislators said in as much as there are some underlying issues which call for dialogue, they do not support the swearing in of Mr Odinga.

The MPs present at the press conference included Sylvanus Osoro South Mugirango), Shadrack Mose (Kitutu Masaba), Joash Nyamoko (West Mugirango),Zadock Ogutu (Bomachoge Borabu), Alfa Miruka (Bomachoge Chache) Samuel Arama (Nakuru West) and Innocent Obiri (Bobasi).

“At this time, our President is Uhuru Kenyatta. That is what the people back in my constituency know but that doesn’t mean that there are no issues to be talked about,” said Mr Onyonka who spoke on behalf of the MPs.

Nasa has set January 30 as the date when Mr Odinga and Kalonzo Musyoka will be sworn in.

The MPs at the same time thanked the President for retaining Dr Fred Matiang’i in the Cabinet saying it’s an honour to the people of Gusii land.

They however urged the President to consider appointing another minister from Kisii County since Dr Matiang’i comes from Nyamira County.

Former Football Kenya Federation chairman Sam Nyamweya said the move to retain Dr Matiang’i in the Cabinet is a demonstration of confidence the President has in his hardworking minister.

“We the Kisii people, are very proud of Matiang’i’s outstanding dedication to duty and unwavering commitment to serve the nation,” Mr Nyamweya said.


Firm to set up geothermal plant

By GEORGE SAYAGIE
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A Chinese company will begin exploration and drilling of geothermal power in Narok County in the next one month.

The project by Kaishan Holdings Group is expected to lower the cost of electricity and create jobs.

The company’s president, Mr Kevin Cao, accompanied by his geologist and Energy ministry officials, were among a delegation that held a meeting with Narok Governor Samuel Tunai on Tuesday to discuss the prospect before the announcement was made.

The company is expected to produce 500MW of geothermal energy.

Speaking after the meeting, Mr Tunai said the company got the green light to drill steam wells in the Suswa South-Magadi-Shompole steam fields.

The Energy ministry’s geologist, Mr Richard Mavisi, said geothermal energy had helped the country mitigate effects of drought that resulted in lower water levels and decreased hydropower generation.

“When this project kicks off, it will create more jobs for our people and it will lower the cost of electricity and will be a gateway towards industrialisation in this country,” said Mr Mavisi.

Mr Cao said building geothermal power plants came with heavy upfront costs due to the expensive drilling of wells to tap steam underground, but the energy source was cheaper and more reliable in the long run.

He said the company has experience of 60 years in geothermal energy exploration.

Governor Tunai said communities in the project area will benefit from employment opportunities when drilling commences next month.


They arrested me for nothing, now my life’s in disarray: Trader

By STELLA CHERONO
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Mr Abdulrazak Haji was having an afternoon saunter at a shopping mall in Nyali, Mombasa County just two days to the end of the year.

As he went about his business, he noticed two people were closely watching him as he moved from one building to another, window shopping.

And, as he was about to enter a coffee shop, the two, who later on identified themselves as police officers, finally approached him and demanded to conduct a body search.

“They said they were from the Anti-Terrorism Police Unit (ATPU) and had been sent to arrest me. They did not, however, show their identity cards,” he says.

“… They took my firearm and asked if I had a licence. I replied in the affirmative and they promptly asked for its certificate …” he said.

Mr Haji explained that the certificate had been safely kept at home. The officers demanded to see it. He obliged. Once at his residence, he handed the officers the document, while explaining to them that he was a licensed gun owner for 30 years.

“They then started ransacking my house, turning it upside down, while saying they were searching for anything suspicious … I had hoped they will leave afterwards. I was wrong,” he said.

They had other plans.

“They told me I would be accompanying them to Nairobi despite the fact that it was night … I requested them to allow me to pick up my medicines,” he says.

“They ordered me to drive with them to the capital. I demanded to know why I was being arrested. ‘We are following instructions from Nairobi’, they said,” he added.

Mr Haji drove between the gruff men as their vehicle sped towards Nairobi in a trip during which he wondered if, indeed, those were officers. What would happen if they killed him, what they had found on him and so many other questions.

“I had heard stories of suspects of terrorism being gunned down and their bodies thrown into the wilderness, stories of people being kidnapped by fake officers, and many other scary ordeals. All these scared me,” Mr Haji says.

They arrived in Nairobi at dawn and he was directed, later on, to the Milimani Law Courts.

“To my surprise, the officers asked the court to grant them a five-day custodial order, so that they could conduct further investigations before they can charge me,” Mr Haji said.

It later on emerged he had been arrested for “abetting terror activities by recruiting and radicalising youth in Mombasa.”

The information in the affidavit was that Haji was being used by Al-Shabaab to spy on Kenyan security agencies in preparation for terrorist attacks during New Year festivities.

“I was shocked. Terrified. The court allowed the police to detain me for five days,” he says, adding that he was taken to the ATPU headquarters, as the court said the crime he “committed” was a matter of national security.

Mr Haji was later released unconditionally on December 29 without charge, after the prosecution found nothing linking him to the crimes he was arrested for.

Mr Haji’s case is not unique. Several others have undergone similar ordeals in the hands of police officers.

Mid last year, Anti-Terrorism Police Unit officers arrested a Moi University student, Salad Tari Gufu, 25, moments after he had presented himself to Huruma police station.

He had gone to the station to clear his name after, together with five others, they were accused of engaging in terror-related activities.

Police, who described them as recruiters and facilitators of a terror network, had placed a Sh2 million bounty on their head – according to a statement released on Wednesday, July, 19.

Ten days after he was arrested, Senior Resident Magistrate Hellen Onkwani ordered Mr Salad’s release, saying “the respondent was not supposed to be arrested.”

A quick search for his name on the internet returns nothing but police had published posters placing a Sh2 million bounty on his head, a situation he says, has cost him his reputation.

Police, especially those from the ATPU, have on several occasions been accused of arresting innocent civilians without verifying information given by informers.

And the head of ATPU, Munga Nyale, maintains the risk of not arresting one terror suspect and ignoring information from either known or anonymous informers could be devastating to the country.

“The security of the State comes first and we are not relenting. We will continue arresting suspects. If they are found to be innocent, we will release them. There is no compromise when it comes to matters of terrorism,” Mr Nyale maintained.

Article 49 of the Constitution under the Bill of Rights stipulates that an arrested person should be informed promptly, in a language that the person understands, why he is being arrested, the right to remain silent and the consequences of not remaining silent.

The arrested person is also allowed to communicate with an advocate, and other persons whose assistance is necessary.

But most of those who have been arrested told the Daily Nation that their phones were immediately confiscated and they were not allowed to even inform members of their families of their whereabouts.

The arrests are sometimes found to have resulted from information by business rivals and cases of mistaken identity.

They, in turn, result in loss of business, broken relationships, being thrown out by landlords, depression and difficulty securing jobs.

People like photographer Msingi Sasis, who was once arrested at the Galleria shopping mall while taking pictures, admitted that after the arrest, he was alienated from his circles.

“I lost almost all my clients because people feared doing business with me. People even stopped calling me for fear of being followed by police and linked with terrorism.”

The photographer, commonly known as “Brekko”, added that the loss of clients resulted in him not paying rent, both for the house and the studio.

Soon, auctioneers raided his studio and seized his computers, cameras, stands, printers and other equipment.

For Mr Haji, the damage of his arrest was majorly on his business and his emotions, as his close associates avoided him.

“I have lost clients and the incident continues to disturb me because I still do not know why they arrested me and who sent them. I live in fear every day. It is just devastating,” Mr Haji says.

Salad says, on his part, that the police posters available on all search engines frustrate him because as long as they are available, employers may not give him a job.

“It will be hard to travel abroad or even do business. Since I was arrested, I cannot remember the number of times I have had to explain to people that the court released me. I have to walk around with the court documents because people remember the arrest but somehow, my vindication escaped them. It is terrible. So depressing. I just hate it,” Mr Salad said.