IN a bizarre twist the bomber who pleaded guilty to being a member of al Shabaab last month has now filed an appeal against his conviction. Elgiva Bwire Oliacha aka Mohammed Seif, 28, was sentenced to life imprisonment a day after his arrest in Kayole Estate, Nairobi, on October 27.
Thirteen hand grenades, six guns and 717 rounds of ammunition were found in his apartment. Bwire is suspected to have tossed two grenades into Mwaura’s Bar on Mfungano Lane on October 24 and at a crowded bus stop next to former OTC on October 25. The grenades killed two people and injured over 20. Police claimed the grenades were Russian-made F1 similar to those used in the killing of two traffic police officers on Thika Road last December.
However Bwire was never cross-examined in court as he declined a lawyer and immediately pleaded guilty. He drafted his appeal with the assistance of other prisoners and the Kamiti prison welfare department. It was filed at the Milimani Law Court crime registry this week.
The appeal mentions seven grounds including the infringement and violation of his rights during arrest, trial and sentencing. “The appeal is mainly based on the infringement of constitutional rights as per Articles 25, 49 and 50 of the Kenyan constitution,” an inmate revealed at the courts yesterday afternoon.
Bwire says police arrested him on the street without informing him why and took him to his house where they found firearms that he now claims he had never seen. The appeal says he was sentenced within 72 hours of his arrest at the Anti Terrorism Police Unit headquarters and not in a court. Nairobi principal magistrate Grace Macharia, sentencing him, said the life sentence would be a deterrent.
Curiously Bwire looked calm and cheerful in court after the sentence. He smiled and posed for photographs in handcuffs. At the time he told journalists he would not appeal. Article 25 of the constitution states that fundamental rights shall not be limited by torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
Article 49 states that any arrested person has the right to be informed promptly the reason for arrest, the right to remain silent, to communicate with a lawyer, and not to be compelled to make any confession or admission that could be used in evidence against him. Bwire was allegedly among 30 al Shabaab recruits who underwent weapons training in Somalia, according to police intelligence.
In a statement he gave to the police, Bwire said he travelled to Dobley in Somalia where he stayed for some time before being inducted into al Shabaab. He was then taken to Baidoa for militia training. In his statement he said he converted to Islam in 2005. He was brought up as a Catholic. He then concentrated on ‘Jihad’ inspired by an al Shabaab commander only identified as Abdilatif. Abdilatif is reportedly a Kenyan Somali currently engaged in war against Kenya Defence Forces.
In his statement, Bwire said he got Jihad literature from the Internet and Abdilatif. Bwire said he returned to Kenya in August 2011 through Mandera. From Somalia, he was paid US$300 by Abdilatif to rent the house in Kayole where the weapons were discovered. He said the weapons were paid for and delivered to him by a man sent by Abdilatif. He said he received a call from Abdilatif in August telling him to meet another man in Eastleigh who handed him the weapons.
Bwire told police he had recruited some Kenyan youths to al Shabaab. Bwire said he attempted to cross the border into Somalia in July 2009 but was arrested in Liboi and taken back to Nairobi. This incident is recorded in Garissa police station OB number 106 of July 26, 2009. His statement details his life story and how he ended up at Nyayo Stadium during Mashujaa Day. He told police that he had no plans of bombing thousands of Kenyans who thronged the venue.
Bwire was born on January 6, 1983, in Pumwani Nairobi and attended Tom Mboya Primary School and Busia Township Primary in Busia. He joined Pumwani secondary school in 1999 and moved to St Augustine’s Tongaren in Trans Nzoia in 2000. He enrolled for a diploma in Electrical Engineering at the Kenya Polytechnic in 2004 but never graduated.