When he was enlisted to the Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) in October 2016, Robert Ekai, 25, from Turkana County, was happy that he would finally assist his parents educate his siblings.
Mr Ekai had turned up early for the recruitment at Lokidang’ in Turkana North Sub-County where he came out fourth in the race which tests the recruits’ fitness.
He was recruited together with 10 other young people from the area.
He was even issued with a service number 97649.
INJURED IN TRAINING
But life took a different turn for the recruit five months into his training. This was after he sustained serious head injuries while undergoing the mandatory rigorous training.
He received medical attention at Medical Reception Station (MRS) situated at the Recruits Training School (RTS) in Eldoret. He also received medical attention at the War Memorial Hospital in Nairobi.
But he says treatment was discontinued after he was discharged on medical grounds on March 31, 2017.
“I was told that my name is no longer in their records. I cannot get proper medication because I’m unemployed. I had also been promised that I would be compensated as per KDF regulations but this has not been the case. But I’m now being told that I’ve been removed from the KDF list. Where is justice in this country?” Mr Ekai wondered during an interview with the Nation.
Mr Ekai says he cannot secure any other employment elsewhere as his national identity card and academic documents were retained at RTS.
“I cannot secure employment with other disciplined forces including Kenya Police Service as my finger prints were taken at RTS. Nobody wants to be associated with me as I’m perceived to be a deserter,” a tearful Ekai told the Nation.
“I was aspiring to serve Kenyans. I’m even informed by reliable sources that my name has been indicated as deceased and I fear someone is using my service number to enrich himself,” he added.
Mr Ekai’s father, Paul Isaac, who accompanied him to the Nation offices in Eldoret on Tuesday, said he educated his son with a lot of difficulties and he was happy when he was recruited by KDF as he hoped he would later assist the family.
The father of five said he was optimistic that his first born son would be admitted back to training after recovery.
“My son is just stuck. He is now like someone who did not go to school. He is a “soldier” and he knows how to use a gun, so where will I take him? I fear he will resort to crime,” said Mr Isaac.
“He should just be given his job back as he has fully recovered. And if they don’t want him back, let them just compensate him to start a business. We wonder where we will turn for assistance. We have explored all avenues but no one is ready to listen to us,” added the distraught father.
MATTER BEING HANDLED
KDF Spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Paul Njuguna said that they will investigate.
"We have received your information. Let's look into the matter and get back you," Col Njuguna told the Nation by phone.
Mr Ekai, who also sustained a left ear injury during the fall, said that all he wants now is to be given back his identity card and KCSE certificate so that he can use them to secure employment elsewhere if he cannot be taken back by KDF.
“I was physically fit when I joined the force and I sustained injuries while training with the intention to serve my county,” he said.
He fears that his service number has been given to someone else and that could be the reason he is now being taken round circles in order to frustrate him.
The only identification document he has indicating that he was once a KDF recruit is the certificate which it indicates that he was discharged from the force on March31, 2017 on medical grounds.
“The above named person was enlisted into the Kenya Defence Forces on 30th November 2016. He joined the Recruit Training School on 30th October 2016 for basic military training until he was discharged from the service on 13th March 2017,” the certificate reads.
“He is hardworking. He is recommended for employment in any organisation which may require his service.”