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Police release ex-Tanzanian MP as UNHCR secures family

By Peterson Githaiga | November 9th 2020 at 17:43:56 GMT +0300

Former Tanzanian MP Godbless Lema (C) shortly after he was released. To the extreme left is his lawyer Prof George Wajackoyah.

A former Tanzanian MP who was being held at the Kajiado Police Station has been released unconditionally.

Speaking after being released, Godbless Lema thanked the government for intervention in the matter, saying he has been allowed to stay in Kenya, under an asylum programme.

The immediate former MP for Arusha Urban Constituency, who had served for two terms, was arrested on Sunday, at Ilbissil 15km from Namanga border.

Earlier, area OCPD Daudi Lolonyokwe declined to divulge details about the matter, saying it is an international issue being decided from a 'higher office'.

Security was tight at the facility as his lawyer George Wajackoyah protested the arrest of his client. The lawyer said the politician's wife and children are now in the hands of the UN refugee agency (UNHCR).

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"I'm very disappointed with the manner in which police officers from Ilbisil Police Station mishandled my client," he said.

He noted that Article 2 of the UNHCR Statute of 1951 provides that a person fleeing from persecution does not need to present documents.

Tanzanian immigration officers coordinated with their Kenyan counterparts to facilitate arrest of the leader. Lema fled a week after the Tanzanian government commenced a crackdown on opposition politicians after the disputed poll which saw President John Magufuli re-elected.

Amnesty International on Monday urged the Kenyan government not to deport Lema and his family, citing hostile political environment and persecution.

In a statement to newsrooms, the agency urged Kenya authorities to abide by the principles of the 1951 Refugee Convention.

Police at Namanga border said another former Member of Parliament Lazaro Nyalandu was taken into custody after he was arrested at Longido in Tanzania on his way to Kenya.

Godbless Lema President John Magufuli UNHCR Ilbisil Police Station
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