Six stone miners freed on Sh1m bond for illegally travelling to Somalia

By: MANASE OTSIALO

Six quarry workers were on Thursday released on Sh1 million bond each with two sureties for allegedly travelling to Somalia without valid documents.

The six are Mr David Mburu, Mr John Odhiambo, Mr Pius Wambua, Mr Leosina Wanyonyi, Mr Nicholas Mukhoma and Mr Peter Wainaina.

The six pleaded guilty to the charge of illegally traveling to Somalia but Mandera Senior Resident Magistrate Peter Areri changed the plea to not guilty after the accused in mitigation said they were not aware that they had arrived in Somalia.

“From the statements in mitigation I find that each accused denies the offence therefore I change the plea for each accused from one of being guilty to that of not guilty,” said Mr Areri.

Mr Areri ruled that the accused be released on Sh1 million bond with two Kenyan sureties of similar amount.

State counsel Kennedy Amwayi said the six accused were arrested on November 12 in Somalia by Somalia soldiers who handed them over to Kenya military before they were presented to Mandera Police Station’s Anti-Terror Unit.

“Your honour, the six accused persons were found having crossed into Somalia without passing through a designated immigration point knowing very well that Somalia is a country prone to terrorism,” said Mr Amwayi.

Mr Amwayi said the accused worked at Fiqo Stone Quarry in Mandera East but claimed they had lost direction to Mandera Bus Park.

He said Mr Wanyonyi lied to the quarry manager Mr Moses Macharia on phone that they were on their way to their workstation when he was in Somalia with the rest.

Mr Wanyonyi, Mr Odhiambo and Mr Wambua told the court they had moved into a new house along the border and they lost direction when they woke up in the morning finding themselves in Somalia.

Mr Wainaina, Mr Mukhoma and Mr Mburu pleaded for forgiveness arguing that they were new in Mandera and that they depended on the three other accused.

“It was my second day in Mandera as I had been recruited to work at Fiqo quarry only to be arrested in a place I did not know was Somalia,” said Mr Mburu.

Fiqo Quarry owner Jaama Hassan Maalim is expected in court on Saturday.

Police suspect the accused traveled to Somalia with an intention of joining Al-Shabaab.

The government suspended quarrying activities in Mandera East in August.

On Tuesday, Mandera County Commissioner Mr Fredrick Shisia however told the Nation that the suspension was lifted after reorganization of the security apparatus in the area.

The case shall be heard on December 8.

SOURCE: DAILY NATION