Trader jailed for crossing into Somalia illegally

MANDERA — A trader was Tuesday sentenced to six months after he pleaded guilty to crossing over to Somalia illegally.

He can avoid the jail term if he pays a Sh100,000 fine.

Mr Samuel Omondi Otieno, 30, who appeared before a Mandera Court, pleaded guilty to attempting to depart from Kenya through an illegal point

While presenting the facts of the case to the court, Mr Kennedy Amwayi, a State counsel, said the accused had occasionally been crossing into Somalia through that illegal point and the police laid a trap that successfully nabbed him.

“The accused person has been seen going into Somalia through that point severally and a report was made to police who later moved and arrested him as he headed to Somalia from Mandera town,” he said.

Mr Amwayi argued that despite the accused purchasing and transporting welding material from Mandera town to Somalia’s Bulahawa and beyond, he did not posses any legal document to allow him get into Somalia.

‘No written agreement’

“The suspect claimed upon interrogation that he worked with several non-governmental agencies including Food Agriculture Organisation (FAO), WFP and Trocare but could not provide any written agreement to prove that,” said Mr Amwayi.

Mr Otieno, from Oyugis in Siaya County, told the court in mitigation that he had been working with several NGOs in Somalia as a welder and that he occasionally purchased his tools of trade from Mandera.

“I agreed to cross to Somalia after these NGOs approached me due to lack of a job back at home when I needed to feed and school my family,” pleaded Mr Otieno.

Immigration clearance

He said he traded on friendly grounds with Somalia and saw no need of seeking immigration clearance at the border.

While sentencing the accused, Resident Magistrate Dancun Mtai said the court had considered Otieno’s mitigation and his remorsefulness but the offence needed to be deterred.

“It is common knowledge that any persons who harbour ill motives are the ones who use undesignated entry and exit points to evade police checks.

“This has to be discouraged by all costs and therefore I sentence the accused person to pay a fine of Sh100,000 in default to serve six months imprisonment,” ruled Mr Mtai.

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