One Less Drug Lord...

Published: Tue, 07/16/2013 - 13:11

For decades, Kenya has been a safe haven for dictators, drug cartels, smugglers and terrorists. Today, thousands of Kenyan families affected by substance abuse may sleep with a sigh of relief

Dikul Shah Delhi 

The arrest and deportation of Nigerian Anthony Chinedu from Kenya has threatened to sever the diplomatic relationship that existed between the country and Nigeria. The saga began with the arrest of the affluent and ‘legitimate’ businessman on allegations of being a narcotics trafficker.

The arrest occurred in April during a city-wide drug bust that was conducted by Nairobi’s Criminal Investigation Department (CID), whereby Chinedu was caught with 10 grams of heroin inside his household. The arrest was part of a major operation conducted by the city’s law enforcement machinery to curb the rising trend of drug trafficking in the region. Sources say that Chinedu’s arrest came days after two men were arrested in the city-centre with 268 grams of heroin.

Chinedu has been living in Kenya for the past 18 years. He has denied his involvement in any illegal activity. He claimed to have made his money through ‘legitimate’ investments and is even married to a Kenyan woman. Earlier, Chinedu was involved in a property dispute with his wife Joyce Akinyi, after she completed a six-month sentence in New Delhi’s Tihar Jail in 2009. The case was forwarded to the court, where it was decided that their business enterprises should be closed and the proceeds divided between the couple.

This is not the first attempt that the Kenyan authorities have made to deport Chinedu. He managed to bypass his removal on four other occasions, a testimony to his power and influence in the East African nation. His wife had asked for his deportation in 2010, on the grounds that he was a danger to Kenya.

Chinedu and six other Nigerian nationals were deported earlier this month from the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) for being in the country illegally. The drug-lords were ferried to Nigeria via a chartered DC-9 aircraft after numerous commercial airlines refused to carry them. Everything ran smoothly until the plane landed at Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos. In an almost cinematic turn of events, the authorities at the airport refused to allow the Kenyan delegation, the plane, and its crew to leave the country unless their demand of returning the deportees to Kenya was met.

The use of a chartered plane is not uncommon. Earlier, the British government had chartered planes to send back close to a thousand Nigerians found in the UK for various reasons that run from cash scams to being in the country illegally. With the cooperation of the European Union (EU), an operation named ‘frontex’ allowed for the repatriation of hundreds of Nigerians without any problems. Therefore, analysts say, the frenzy over Chinedu’s deportation is uncalled for.  

In an interview over the phone with a Kenyan newspaper, Chinedu stated that the plane now “belonged to him” and that he was holding it as compensation for all the “massive investments” that he has made in Kenya. Chinedu boldly stated, “Arrest a mad person, then you will realise that he has a mother and father.”

This is a statement that suggests that he has protection within the Nigerian government. Twelve people have been detained, 11 Kenyans and one Swede. Chinedu claims that he had to bear “inhuman treatment” at the hands of Kenyan officials throughout the entire deportation. He asserts that they received bad food and had to live in squalid conditions during the entire “ordeal”. Chinedu even went as far as to state that the Kenyan officials were being detained on his orders “as a government official”. It has been reported that the Kenyan officials have been placed in “inhuman conditions”, a rumour that was put to rest last week when Kenya’s high commission sent officials to meet the detainees at Lagos.

 

The Nigerian government has denied any involvement with Chinedu. It has assured that the reason for the detention of officials is because they broke international protocol by flying into Nigeria without visas, an act that the Nigerian government deemed as  “lack of respect”. Initially, the Kenyan government refused to negotiate over Chinedu’s ‘hostages’.

However, Kenyan Foreign Affairs Secretary Amina Mohammed announced that the Kenyan government has initiated full diplomatic talks with their Nigerian counterparts to sort out the matter that has brought considerable embarrassment to the two countries. Sources say that the fear of Chinedu being able to contact his lawyers on time, so as to hinder the chances of his deportation, was the reason for the short notice that resulted in not promptly informing the Nigerian
High Commission.

This cat and mouse game that Nigeria plays with countries that deports its citizens is not new. The federal government has in the past denied entry to its nationals who had been deported from Germany, South Africa and even China. Most of these countries have been forced to apologize or risk mass expulsion of their citizens from Nigeria.

The current fiasco that has evolved from Chinedu’s deportation has been dubbed as ‘Afrocinema’ by the local media. It is yet another example of how affluent and powerful criminals such as Chinedu can slip through the loopholes in the justice system and use corruption to their benefit.

After years of dodging his banishment, a direct order from the president was the only ‘legal’ way to have him deported. The positive side of this entire debacle is that Kenyans are now reaping the benefits of its new Constitution. Ten years ago, Anthony Chinedu would have flourished in the archaic system that allowed those who broke the law to escape conviction.

For decades, Kenya has been a safe haven for dictators, drug cartels, smugglers and terrorists. apart from internal, violent conflicts. Today, thousands of Kenyan families affected by substance abuse may perhaps sleep with a sigh of relief: there’s one less drug-lord to worry about.   

The writer is a Kenyan student doing journalism at Sharda University, Greater Noida, UP. 

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MASS DEPORTATION 

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta finally gave a tough nod to the deportation of Nigerian nationals living in Kenya. The order came weeks after the arrest and deportation of Anthony Chinedu, a suspected narcotics trafficker. This has resulted in the mass expulsion of many Nigerians who are suspected of illegal activities within Kenya.

Unlike Chinedu, many of these deportees are believed to be innocent and have stated that being Nigerian was reason enough for receiving the boot. They have also lived in the country for significant periods of time, are married to Kenyan women and have families. Most of them were victims of night swoops conducted by the armed forces, targeting the houses of wealthy Nigerians.

Many believe that the Kenyan president has a grudge against the Nigerian community living in Kenya as a majority of them supported his opponent, Raila Odinga, before the recent elections.

Kenya is no novice at harbouring wanted criminals and fugitives. In the early 1990s, reports had circulated via sources within the CIA and FBI, of Osama bin Laden’s new hideout being somewhere in the East African region. It was later established that one of his sons had also taken refuge within the Kenyan capital of Nairobi.

Another wanted fugitive, Félicien Kabuga, who has been on the run for the past 18 years, is wanted by the American government for his involvement in the 1994 Rwandan genocide. Kabuge has a bounty of 400 million Kenya shillings on his head. A bounty that is only comparable to that of bin Laden’s before his death.

Other people who have been suspected of being in Kenya include flamboyant Zimbabwean, Frank Buyanga, who is wanted for fraud, forgery and moneylaundering.

For decades, Kenya has been a safe haven for dictators, drug cartels, smugglers and terrorists. Today, thousands of Kenyan families affected by substance abuse may sleep with a sigh of relief
Dikul Shah Delhi 

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This story is from print issue of HardNews