Tanzania closes door on international investigators into abduction incidents

THE government of Tanzania is refusing to engage international agencies in investigating the kidnapping of Africa’s youngest billionaire Mohammed Dewji (Mo).

On Tuesday noon, shadow minister for home affairs Godbless Lema told a press conference in Dar es Salaam that the government was showing little commitment in the search of the billionaire who was kidnapped on Thursday last week.
He called upon the government to seek international collaboration, and to do a holistic investigation of all incidents of abduction in the country, saying reluctance to do so would mean the government is suspect number one.

Speaking to journalists a few hours later, deputy minister for home affairs Hamad Masauni retorted: “We don’t see any need for engaging international investigators. We have the best army and the best security service; we have not yet failed.”

But Lema had earlier warned that the government’s nonchalance was becoming a source of people’s mistrust towards its organs. He was particularly amazed by reckless remarks uttered by home affairs minister Kangi Lugola, the previous day. Lugola had threatened to take stern action against anyone publicly challenging the government in the way it is carrying out investigation on the abduction of Mo.

Lema said: “We don’t see the government’s seriousness in this search for Mo. Let everyone and every institution in this country raise their voices for Mo’s rescue. Lugola should stop threatening people who are openly discussing this incident… The life of one person, regardless of social status, is more important than any amount of money. The government should open doors to international investigations, otherwise we will suspect the government and its organs.”

He expressed worries that investors would be shunning Tanzania for fear of abduction, if the government did nothing serious to arrest the trend. He blamed the home affairs minister for having said the previous day that “after all, Mo is not the first person to be kidnapped.”

Lema queried: “These remarks by the minister are very irresponsible. Does Lugola want to justify incidents of abduction as a normalcy in Tanzania? Ben Saanane (an activist) was abducted in November 2016, Azory Gwanda (a journalist) was abducted in November 2017, Tundu Lissu (a lawyer-cum-politician) was gunshot in September 2017, and no investigation whatsoever has been carried out so far. We cannot accept this.”

According to Lema, the manner in which the abduction of Mo is described to have taken place in a high profile location full of CCTV cameras, leaves much to be desired on the integrity and professionalism of police; and that if if everybody keeps quiet, as the minister tends to suggest, someone else will disappear.

In 2016 and 2017 hundreds of people were killed in Kibiti. No action was taken. After the Tundu Lissu shooting in September last year, police dislodged a CCTV camera from his house in what is seen as an apparent move to cover up the culprits. No investigation was carried out, no one was arrested in suspicion. Now that Mo has been abducted in a highly guarded location will several CCTV cameras that did not detect these kidnappers or their two cars, as per police reports, the integrity of security forces is on the line.


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