The fear that terrorist offenders could go back to their ‘old ways’ after their release from prison is widely shared among security services and the public.
However, terrorist refusing to leave prison after their acquittal is a rare occurrence.
Recently, a Muslim cleric who was acquitted yesterday has refused to leave Kamiti maximum prison alleging he will be executed by state security agents.
Sheikh Garso refused to be released saying he feared he would be killed, just like other terror suspects who have disappeared without a trace upon being freed from custody.
Through his lawyer John Khaminwa, the cleric pleaded with the magistrate to direct Kamiti prison authorities to ensure he is safe and that they should not hand him over to any police officer since he is apprehensive, he will not live a day after exiting the prison gates.
“Your honour, I pray you direct Sheikh Garso remains in Kamiti, even after you have declared him a free man. He fears for his life,” defence lawyer pleaded.
Khaminwa urged the magistrate to direct the prison authorities to protect Sheikh Garso until further orders are issued by the superior court.
Milimani Law Courts Chief Magistrate Wendy Kagendo declared him free however, she directed that Sheikh remains at Kamiti maximum prison for 30 days as he pursues the High Court case.
“It is the High Court which is vested with the power to interpret the Constitution, then give orders it deems fit,” Kagendo stated.
She said since the Sheikh was apprehensive about his life and the court cannot shut its eyes and order him to leave Kamiti if he has information that he may not live another day once he exits the prison.
In the meantime, the cleric will pay for his patronage of Kamiti prison for 30 days, as he pursues the suit in the High Court to compel the government to protect him.
Sheikh was arrested on January 13, 2018, in Marsabit town over terror-related offences.
He was accused of conspiracy to commit terrorism, radicalisation, recruiting members to a terrorist group and membership to a terrorist group, which the prosecution noted attract jail terms of up to 30 years each.
The court heard the suspect was arrested on suspicion of recruiting youths to join Al Shabaab.
In March this year, Amani Mohammed Mwafujo was abducted by security agents’ minutes after his release from Shimo La Tewa Maximum Prison, where was remanded since 2016.
Kwale Law Court acquitted Mwafujo of 10 terror-related charges and ordered his release, which was delayed until March 21 at 10am.
Mwafujo, aged 34, denied all the counts, including six on possession of articles for use to commit a terrorist act and being a member of Al Shabaab, his lawyer Chacha Mwita said.
Three other charges involved collecting information for use to commit terrorist acts.
Anti-Terror Police Unit (ATPU) officers had arrested Mwafujo on October 24, 2016, at Tawheed secondary school, Kwale, his sister Ramla Mohamed said.
Mwita said the investigating officer did not testify and refused to respond to court summons, resulting in a warrant of arrest against him.
“His non-attendance was among the reasons the prosecution failed,” Chacha said.
Mwafujo gave his defence testimony on June 7, 2018, Chacha said, and the judgment remained pending until March 17 when Senior Principal Magistrate Joe Omido delivered it virtually.
Mwafunjo was in the company of Ramla when the abduction occurred at Shanzu stage, the sister said.
She said the armed officers with a Landcruiser and a Toyota Probox pulled Mwafujo from a matatu he had boarded. They bundled him into a Landcruiser and sped off, she added.
This is the second abduction MUHURI has recorded this year involving terror suspects who are undergoing or have completed the trial process.
On February 4, 2022, security agents abducted Nassoro Mohamed Ali, 43, from his home in Mtwapa, Kilifi. Ali faced a charge of being an Al Shabaab member. The case is still active, but his whereabouts are unknown.