Drama at JKIA as Miguna Miguna is detained over passport

Tuesday March 27 2018

Mr Miguna Miguna

Mr Miguna Miguna (in cap) alongside his lawyers (from left) Nelson Havi, John Khaminwa, Jullie Soweto, and Cliff Ombeta at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi on March 26, 2018. Mr Miguna rejected the government’s offer of a six-month visa. DENNIS ONSONGO | NATION 

By IBRAHIM ORUKO
More by this Author

Lawyers were last night working overtime to have deported lawyer and opposition activist Miguna Miguna allowed into the country after he was detained at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in a standoff over his travel documents.

Mr Nelson Havi, one of Mr Miguna’s lawyers, told the Nation they would on Tuesday morning ask the courts to order their client’s immediate readmission should the standoff remain unresolved overnight.

Mr Miguna refused to enter Kenya on a Canadian passport and a six-month visa, insisting he was not a foreigner. His lawyers agreed with him, and last evening Siaya Senator James Orengo, recently elected Senate Minority Leader after Moses Wentang’ula’s ouster, joined them at the airport to, among others, engage top government officials over the matter.

Under Kenyan law, one cannot enter the country without a valid travel document. Mr Miguna has, since his deportation last month, been travelling on a Canadian passport after his Kenyan one was invalidated in controversial circumstances over the role he played in the ‘swearing in’ of former Prime Minister Raila Odinga as the ‘people’s president’ on January 30.

IMPASSE

On Monday, lawyers were concerned that if the impasse persists, Mr Miguna could be deported again. However, Mr Havi said Mr Miguna’s case was unusual as he was returning to the country on the strength of a court order which the government was legally bound to comply with. Mr Miguna, continued Mr Havi, would stay at the airport until he was cleared.

The self-declared general of #Resist, a Nasa opposition initiative to boycott unfriendly products and services, told immigration officials to stamp his national identity card in the absence of his Kenyan passport. They declined the request.

A few hours later, he tried to forcefully enter the country, forcing security personnel at the airport to mobilise.

“Mr Miguna is being asked to surrender his Canadian passport,” lawyer Cliff Ombeta told the media at the airport. “He is also being asked to sign some papers so that he is issued with a six-month visa. We have rejected this and asked him not to sign the papers.”

SURRENDER PASSPORT

Mr Ombeta had arrived at the airport alongside lawyers John Khaminwa, Jullie Soweto and Nelson Havi, all of whom represented him in a series of applications he filed at the High Court when he was deported.

Also at the airport was Ms Kagwriria Mbogori, chairperson of Kenya Human Rights Commission, which had been asked by the court to ensure that Mr Miguna’s return was properly facilitated.

Mr Ombeta said Mr Miguna feared that surrendering his Canadian passport would make him vulnerable should his visa expire after six months if he is not granted his Kenyan citizenship back.

Also, argued Mr Ombeta, doing so would allow the government to restrict Mr Miguna’s movements.

Ms Mbogori said the Immigration department had disregarded High Court judge Luka Kimaru’s order to have Mr Miguna allowed re-entry. Last month Justice Kimaru ruled that Mr Miguna’s deportation was illegal and ordered that he should be allowed back in the country.

TRAVEL DOCUMENTS

He further demanded that the government pays for the lawyer’s airfare and also issues him with travel documents. Ms Mbogori said this order had not been complied with.

“His argument is valid to a certain extent,” Ms Mbogori told the Nation at the airport, but noted also that Mr Miguna’s actions and strong personality had complicated the standoff.

“We know his personality,” she said. “He was rather robust when he arrived.”