Another government critic abducted in Tanzania

Mdude Nyagali - COURTESY

ANOTHER civilian has been abducted in Tanzania. As a wave of political abductions in the East African country was seemingly dwindling in the past few months,  a group of “masked and armed police”  hijacked Mdude Nyagali, a computer software trader, social media activist and critic of President John Magufuli.

Masked police officers found Mdude in his shop at Vwawa, Mbozi District, in Songwe Region, on Saturday evening May 4, 2019 and took him. Eye witnesses say the incident involved four hijackers in two cars. In the course of forcefully dragging him from his shop to one of their vehicles, the men severely beat him up as he resisted and shouted for help.

“This incident follows an order from above, and Mdude may not be back because the hijackers’ motive is to silence him once and for all. They want to remain unknown but everyone knows who they are and where they are from,” an anonymous informer told SAUTI KUBWA.

As of now, his whereabouts are unknown. His relatives and friends went to a local police station to enquire about him, but police at Vwawa denied knowledge of the incident, saying they had not been involved. In a more worrying reaction, police refused to officially record the incident.

President Magufuli has been on a working tour of Mbeya and Songwe regions since last week, and word is out that, in a bid to stop Mdude from incessantly embarrassing him on social media, he ordered him contained before the end of his tour. People used to Magufuli’s working style may not doubt this information.

The president and his surrogates are openly perturbed by Mdude’s critical posts, particularly his exposure of how police tortured him when they arrested him in August 2016 for insulting the president.

A few weeks ago, a ruling party zealot openly threatened Mdude’s life on his Facebook page saying.”your days are numbered.” Police never took action.

On March 24, through a Facebook post, one Abusadik Banzi Banzi, writing a vulgar tone, in Kiswahili, threatened Mdude in a  the post that translates to something like: “Mdude, your days are numbered.  Soon, you will join your colleague Tundu Lissu.” Lissu is Member of Parliament for Singida East who survived an assassination attempt on September 7, 2017. He is still undergoing treatment in Brussels.

On April 4, 2019, Mdude responded by posting Banzi’s brief profile as  “A 34-year old stalwart of the ruling party (CCM), resident of Elera ward in Arusha Municipality, who has been personifying as a security operative of the Tanzania Intelligence and Security Services (TISS).”

The main opposition party has issued a statement condemning this heinous deed, calling on police to release him unconditionally. Activists yesterday took to social media with hashtags carrying similar demands – #BringBackMdudeALive.

Sources say the hijackers’ main motive is to assassinate Mdude within the first 24 hours, and that by late evening they had injected him with drugs and had changed vehicles on way to their base in Dar es Salaam, about 800 km away. If, for any reason, that mission is delayed or foiled, they are planning to charge him with a serious criminal offence.

This is not the first time Mdude is being held by police, tortured and transported from his home region to Dar es Salaam. He is a survivor of various forms of torture inflicted upon him under police custody in secret places. In August 2016 police arrested him for allegedly insulting the president on social media.

When he was eventually rescued, he narrated the entire ordeal and recorded his statement in short video clips. He put some information in writing, mentioning places, names and designations of people that had tortured him, and types of heinous tortures they had inflicted on him before he was rescued. SAUTI KUBWA has a copy of his Kiswahili manuscript of the narrative.

No doubt, Magufuli’s “unknown people” are still at work to silence critics. But this time, unlike in 2016, the world is watching more closely. The search for Mdude goes on.

Since Magufuli came to power in 2015 many people who have found themselves on the wrong side of the president have suffered ineffable consequences including arbitrary arrests, abductions, tortures, and killings.

The latest serious case of abduction occurred in October 2018 involving Africa’s youngest billionaire Mohammed Dewji. He was abducted and released in style. But many others – including activist Ben Saanane and journalist Azory Gwanda – are still missing since 2016 and 2017, respectively,

For the sake of records, some of Mdude’s video clips on a previous incident will be attached here.

Clip ONE

His story is still unfolding.


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