Controversial politician stranded in Germany after airline blocks him from boarding citing government directive
The planned return of deported lawyer Miguna Miguna has been thrown into confusion following an alleged directive stopping an airline from flying him back to the country.
This came even as sources intimated that the self-proclaimed revolutionist will only be allowed into the country with a Kenyan passport, despite the court having issued an order that he can use his national identity card.
Sources told The Standard that the decision was reached on Monday night during a meeting of top security officials and officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs who argued that Dr Miguna did not have a Kenyan passport to warrant his travel back to the country.
“Let him apply for a Kenyan passport at the Canadian capital where we have an immigration office. Once he gets it, he can come over. We don’t want trouble here,” said a highly placed source.
This gave an indication that the government was not ready to lift the red alert to allow him to fly from Germany to Kenya.
“He must go back to where he originated, Canada, and start the process,” said the source.
It now means Miguna is free to make a fresh application for a passport, which ordinarily takes at least two weeks for processing, and use it at the point of departure if he is to set foot in the country.
Yesterday morning, Miguna said officials at the Frankfurt Airport in Germany told him a red alert had been issued by Kenyan authorities. He said he had been barred from boarding his flight to Nairobi, with the airline citing a red alert preventing him from flying to Kenya or any other African country.
“The ministry is supposed to comply with court orders of 2018 and also court orders that were issued yesterday, but the same ministry and the same government went behind the Kenyan people and issued a red alert saying that I should not be allowed to board the flight. In fact they demanded that my flight be cancelled and my money be refunded, otherwise the flight will not be allowed to land,” Miguna said.
But Government Spokesman Cyrus Oguna said President Uhuru Kenyatta himself had given the assurance that the embattled lawyer is free to travel to Kenya and asserted that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs would handle the red alert issue raised by Lufthansa airlines.
“The president’s clearance supersedes any other order. The red alert is an issue that can be sorted out by the Foreign Affairs ministry,” said Mr Oguna.
The controversial lawyer’s flight was initially scheduled to arrive at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport last night at 9.25pm.
“I’m exploring all my options. I’ll communicate when and how I will travel to Kenya later today (yesterday) or tomorrow (today). Meanwhile, I urge all my supporters, freedom fighters and genuine human rights defenders to remain focused and unbowed. Mobilize for a huge homecoming to shame the despots,” Miguna said in a tweet.
But yesterday, leaders across the political divide gave varied reasons on Miguna’s fate, with some advising the ‘General’ to end the insults and address his return home soberly.
Ford Kenya party leader and Bungoma Senator Moses Wetang’ula said the debacle could have been informed by the government’s earlier decision to declare Miguna a persona non-grata when they deported him in 2018.
He, however, downplayed claims that the orders barring Lufthansa from flying Miguna to Nairobi were politically motivated.
“When Uhuru said Miguna should come back, he was aware of the incessant attacks by Miguna. I don’t think Miguna’s attacks would make him lose his cool,” said Mr Wetang’ula.
He said the government should rescind the red alert and allow Miguna come back in conformity with the court orders directing that he be allowed entry.
“I want to believe that he was barred on the misguided alert that he is a Canadian citizen. The Kenyan authorities should countermand the earlier alert and allow him back.”
ODM Secretary General Edwin Sifuna said he is not aware that there is anyone frustrating Miguna’s return to the country, adding that “if there is, then that person is in contempt of court”.
He continued: “Miguna may be vile, foul mouthed and ungrateful but that does not take away any of his rights, including the right to come home as and when he pleases.”
Ugunja MP Opiyo Wandayi accused the controversial lawyer of being noisy and engaging in unnecessary attacks.
He said the government had pronounced itself that the deported lawyer was free to come back and advised him to deal with his travel arrangements quietly without antagonising other people.
“The Miguna issue is settled .... The rest are details that he should deal with quietly. He is tweeting too much. Once the government has cleared him, how he travels becomes his personal issue.”
Nominated MP Godfrey Osotsi dismissed claims the orders could have been politically instigated due to Miguna’s stinging attacks on President Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga.
“Miguna is not as big as some people want to portray him. Raila is not interested in whatever he has been writing against him. That is why he has never responded to his unfounded claims,” said Mr Osotsi.
“He is not a political threat to either Uhuru or Raila. Even Uhuru the other day said he should come back home.”
Ford Kenya Secretary General Eseli Simiyu (Tongaren MP), however, said Miguna’s continued attacks against Uhuru and Raila could be behind the latest developments.
“The matter is now not about the law; it is politics. He has been bashing the two leaders. There could be a feeling that his continued attacks would benefit Deputy President William Ruto,” said Mr Eseli.
Nyando MP Jared Okello faulted Kenyan authorities for issuing the red alert, arguing that the orders only apply within the country’s jurisdiction.
“We need to have the Kenyan government respect the rule of law. The government does not have locus standi to prevent Miguna from entering the country,” he said.
“What the government should have done if Miguna has a case to answer was to allow him access and hold him culpable or appeal the court order and exhaust any available opportunity.”
No citizenship debate
Belgut MP Nelson Koech said there should be no debate on whether a Kenyan by birth is entitled to return to his homeland.
“It is simple. Miguna is a Kenyan citizen with a known residence and kin. He is entitled to his travel documents, not as a favour but as a right. We are giving unnecessary attention to the games being played to an extent of having a government spokesperson giving a response,” he said.
On his part, Homa Bay Town MP Peter Kaluma said Miguna should be allowed to land in Kenya with his Canadian passport or any other travel document, and once in the country apply for a new passport, which the government has said it is ready to facilitate.
His Dagoretti North counterpart Simba Arati added that Miguna should cease the fight and follow due process to get his Kenyan passport back before jetting back into the country.
“We are tired of drama. There is a time for war and a time for peace. This is a time for peace and we welcome him back,” said Mr Arati.
[Rawlings Otieno, Roselyne Obala and Moses Nyamori]