alexa Blame game ensues over Miguna Miguna deportation - Daily Nation

Blame game ensues over Miguna Miguna deportation

Saturday March 31 2018

miguna miguna

Dr Miguna Miguna in a Dubai hospital on March 29, 2018 following his deportation from Kenya. PHOTO | COURTESY  

PATRICK LANG'AT
By PATRICK LANG'AT
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JOHN NGIRACHU
By JOHN NGIRACHU
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Today, days after Miguna Miguna was deported for the second time in as many months, the government and his handlers are still trading accusations over who is to blame for the saga.

When Mr Miguna landed in Nairobi on Monday afternoon, everybody in the team that received him was under the impression that they had an agreement that would allow him to return to the land of his birth.

On the government side, Mr Jimmy Edwin Nyikuli, the legal officer in the Investigations and Prosecutions section of the Immigration Department, was of the belief that Mr Miguna would have his Canadian passport stamped, after which he would fill in a form to apply for a visa, get the visa without having to pay even a shilling, walk out of immigration and go on home.

That, however, is not what happened.

DUBAI
The drama that was to play out in the next five days would prove how wrong Mr Nyikuli was, with the intransigence of both Mr Miguna and the government playing a part in escalating what was initially a minor and largely technical issue into a week-long battle that has transcended Kenya’s borders and roping in even authorities in Dubai.

As of Friday, Mr Miguna was holed up at the Dubai International Airport, hoping he would somehow get his travel documents and come back to Kenya.

He categorically denied any suggestion that he would be going back to Canada, where he is a citizen.

From an analysis of documents submitted in court and interviews with Mr Miguna’s lawyers, the dispute hinged on the matter of whether he should be issued a free visa to enter Kenya.

Mr Nelson Havi, a lawyer in Mr Miguna’s team, had written to the Immigration Department on March 14, informing them that his client would be come back in the country on March 26.

PASSPORT

He was contacted by Mr Fred Ngatia, representing the Immigration Department, on Friday last week and an agreement was struck. The only detail left was implementing it.

According to Mr Nyikuli, who has sworn an affidavit to back the government’s case at the High Court, the agreement was that “it would be practical for Mr Miguna to re-enter the country using his Canadian passport as directed by the court, since his Kenyan passport had been surrendered to the High Court pursuant to court orders...”

Mr Miguna’s passport had been invalidated and perforated and there was not enough time to process a travel document for him during the 10-day window between when Mr Havi contacted immigration and the day Mr Miguna was to arrive.

Mr Nyikuli said he was also informed by Mr Ngatia that the visa fee would be waived, meaning that M Miguna would fill out the paperwork, re-enter the country and then go about getting a valid passport.

ID CARD
However, the outspoken lawyer would hear none of it despite being escorted to the diplomatic counter at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, where he demanded to be allowed into the country on the basis of his National Identity Card.

After he refused to be cleared, he picked his bags from the luggage area but found his exit blocked by security officers.

Mr Nyikuli said in his affidavit that Mr Miguna attempted to assault the Officer Commanding the JKIA police station.

However, Mr Havi denied that there was an agreement between him and Mr Ngatia.

“We had a meeting with the human rights commission, who were to meet Immigration Principal Secretary Kihalangwa, and then on my part I met Fred Ngatia.

"Fred Ngatia’s (view) was that we should not have the human rights commission, and that he and I should go to the runway to get Miguna. I told him that’s not possible,” Mr Havi said.

ACTIVISTS
On Monday, Mr Havi said, the lawyers went to the airport a few minutes before Mr Miguna was scheduled to land where he met Mr Nyikuli.

According to Mr Havi, Mr Nyikuli made the same plea of excluding the human rights commission from the process.

“There was no such agreement. Miguna’s instructions to the legal team were that he cannot surrender his passport to be issued with a visa, because he is a Kenyan.

"And we agreed with him on that. The court directed that he be issued with his valid passport.

"In the alternative, the government gives him travel documents to enter the country,” Mr Havi said.

According to Ms Julie Soweto, one of Mr Miguna’s lawyers, the self-declared general of the National Resistance Movement had no qualms travelling to Kenya with his Canadian passport.

However, he insisted on being treated as a Kenyan.

“If they were going to give him entry, by stamping his Canadian passport ‘entry’, and then they will process his Kenyan passport later, that would be acceptable,” Ms Soweto told the Saturday Nation.

STUBBORN

According to her, Mr Miguna was “the clearest person on this”.

“The issue is not the Canadian passport,” she said.

“The issue is that Miguna needed to come in as a Kenyan. We said: ‘If you are only going to stamp entry into the (Canadian) passport that would be acceptable’.

"But they kept saying they can’t just stamp ‘entry’, that they needed to say it is coming in on a visa, or write case number and that he is here on the basis of a court order. No!”

From videos taken inside the airport, it was evident that Mr Miguna was not always in agreement with his lawyers and was heard berating them when they suggested that he sign some documents and be done with it.

While Mr Miguna’s stubbornness is well-known from his time as adviser to Mr Raila Odinga when the latter was Prime Minister, and in his numerous TV appearances as a political analyst and later Nairobi gubernatorial candidate, the government’s reaction to his demands at the airport this week prolonged the drama to the point of making it a farce.

KNCHR
Kenya National Commission on Human Rights chairman Kagwiria Mbogori summed up the agency’s feelings towards Mr Miguna as well as the government.

“I was disappointed with Miguna because the court order had allowed him to use his Canadian passport to gain entry into the country,” she said at a press conference on Thursday.

“He adamantly refused to use the papers he had travelled with. They were his Canadian papers. I had fully expected him at least to use them to gain entry into the country and his refusal just really boggled us also.

"And he was a bit too boisterous at the Immigration desk and he did push around some immigration officers and pushed his way to the baggage collection area. I think that was in breach of immigration regulations.”

ODM PARTY

She said that KNCHR tried to salvage the situation with the hope that Mr Miguna would produce his Canadian travel documents, get the free visa and then wait for the hearing of his case and hopefully regain his status as a citizen.

“Essentially, there were some missteps on both sides but one of the things we cannot override is that, in blatant breach of court orders, principal officers of the State orchestrated his first deportation... and failed to re-issue the Kenyan passport they had cancelled to facilitate his re-entry into the country as a Kenyan citizen,” Ms Mbogori said.

However, Ms Soweto disagreed with that assessment, even as she admitted her client could be a difficult man at times.

“I mean, Miguna is adamant, and is firm, and everything, but some things that are said about him are not just true, at all.

"And on this one, Kagwiria Mbogori is just wrong. The question of the passport needs to be looked at in the context of what Miguna said, and what the immigration officials were telling him, and what it is then that he refused or rejected,” Ms Soweto said.

Meanwhile, ODM spokesman Philip Etale on Friday disputed Mr Miguna’s assertion that the party had abandoned him.

Mr Etale said on social media that when Mombasa Governor Ali Hassan Joho attempted to visit Mr Miguna, the lawyer said he was not willing to see him.