Friday, June 28, 2013

We should've flipped Nigeria The Bird!

If you did not find the spectacle of Kenyans being held hostage by an apparently friendly nation at the behest of a deported alleged drugs trafficker and the Government of Kenya "negotiating" the release of the Kenyans disturbing, then it is quite possible that nothing the Government of Kenya will ever do will ever surprise you. When the President ordered the expulsion of all suspected drugs traffickers from Kenya, many were perturbed that these suspects were not being arraigned before magistrates, convicted, and sentenced to lengthy stays in Kamiti GK prison before their inevitable expulsion from Kenya. But we will never know the rationale that informed the President's decision to expel them; what is surprising is that the directive seemed to have been implemented with alacrity.

The Chinedu Affair, however, has some curious twists and turns. Mr Chinedu seems to have been a long time resident of Kenya, having established himself as a businessman of no mean repute. His attempt to found a family with a Kenyan did not succeed; he and his estranged wife are engaged in a bitter divorce at the heart of which is the property that Mr Chinedu claims his estranged wife is trying to steal from him (with the assistance of the State, as he so ludicrously claims.)

Mr Chinedu is no stranger to the inner workings of the Kenyan criminal administration system. In his on-going feud with his estranged wife, he has been in and out of jail so many times that he has become a familiar face to the court officials and policemen that have to deal with his matters. He must have felt confident that the State's latest attempt to remove him from Kenya would come-a-cropper like all that preceded it. This time he was wrong. And this is where the second strange thing happened.

Traditionally, a government does not lay down millions of shillings, or its equivalent, in deporting an undesirable person; all it does is to ensure he is placed in the first home-bound vessel and that the vessel leaves its territory. Why did the Government of Kenya decide to hire a business jet in its haste to deport Mr Chinedu? What were Kenyan officials, including policemen and immigration officers, doing accompanying the controversial Nigerian back to his home country? Then it gets curiouser and curiouser. Why did Nigeria refuse to accept Mr Chinedu's deportation? Why did they hijack the plane that brought him home and take hostage the Kenyans who accompanied him? Why did the Government of Kenya not inform the Nigerian High Commissioner in Nairobi that Mr Chinedu was being expelled as an undesirable alien? Why did the Government of Kenya choose to negotiate the "release" of the Kenyans rather than demand it as of right? Why didn't the government issue a formal démarche protesting the Nigerian two-step?

Then things went completely off the rails. The Cabinet Secretary for the Interior and Co-ordination of Government, being the one who deported the Nigerian, was unable to state with confidence that the Government of Kenya had acted within the law when expelling Mr Chinedu; he was unsure how long it would take to recover the Kenyans taken hostage in Nigeria; and he wasn't even sure how much it cost to deport the troublesome Nigerian. His counterpart, the Cabinet Secretary for Foreign Affairs, tried to "shush" Kenyans, repeating annoyingly that the Government of Kenya was negotiating with the Federal Government of Nigeria for the safe return of the Kenyans, and their plane, still being detained in Nigeria. Parliament, on its part, did not cover itself in glory. The Leaders of the Majority and Minority Parties outdid themselves in making statements on the floor of the National Assembly that simply betrayed that they have no clue what their proper role in the Government of Kenya is. The Majority Leader surely outdid himself in his robust defense of the Government of Kenya; the Minority Leader could not decide whether his target was the Interior Cabinet Secretary or the Foreign Affairs one. In the end he simply abandoned the whole affair and turned his attention to scuttling Uhuru Kenyatta's one-laptop-per-standard-one-child project. He lost that fight too.

In this entire affair, like in a few others over the infancy of the Jubilee government, State officials have behaved with a certain level of timidity that is breathtaking. If the Interior Cabinet Secretary was within his power to eject Mr Chinedu, he should not be shy about declaring it to all who will listen. If he has proof that Mr Chinedu is indeed a drugs peddler, he should place this information in the public domain so that we can all judge its veracity. Why the Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary chose not to aggressively pursue the release of the Kenyans remains a mystery. Her assurances that the Government was doing all it could to secure their safe release were not very reassuring. we may not be as populous as Nigeria or as bomb-happy as the United States, but, as the leading lights of the Jubilee government spared no opportunity to remind us, we are a sovereign state and if a Kenyan is taken hostage in any part of the world, we will do what needs to be done to aggressively secure their release. We should never kow-tow to bandit governments no matter how righteous their indignation might sound. When it comes to Kenyans, its our people first and fuck the rest of the world!

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