Jan 22 , 2022

Ethiopia wants to know the whereabouts of a businessman abducted in Nairobi two months ago. Ethiopian authorities placed a formal request last week to Kenya, demanding disclosure on where Samson Teklemichael is detained and to be granted consular visits.

Samson is a businessman exporting liquified petroleum gas (LPG) and a known figure among the Ethiopian community in Nairobi, where he has lived for 16 years. His abduction on November 19, 2021, in the Kilimani neighbourhood of Kileleshwa County, sent shockwaves and distress among the community. Video footage surfaced on social media platforms a few hours after his abduction showing his Bentley car stopped by police officers, and him being forcefully removed and taken to another vehicle by unidentified men.

Samson had brief contact with his wife, Milen Halefom, telling her he had been taken by people he did not recognise, Kenyan newspapers reported.

"I appeal to President Uhuru Kenyatta and all media houses both local and international to help my family to address this issue and bring it to closure," Milen had said on Kenyan TV at the time of the abduction.

Nothing has been heard from him since.

Ethiopian diplomats in Nairobi have been pressing Kenyan authorities to be forthcoming with information on the businessman's whereabouts to no avail.

"We expect the Kenyan authorities to give us an account of our citizen who was taken away in Nairobi in broad daylight and whose whereabouts remain unknown," Meles Alem, Ethiopia's ambassador to Kenya, told Fortune.

This was a message sent in a note to the Kenyan Embassy in Addis Abeba last week by officials at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

"We requested that he [Samson] be visited by his spouse and the Ambassador as soon as possible," said Fisseha Shawel, head of the neighbouring countries directorate at the Ministry.

Consular access refers to a citizen's right to visit consular officers in the host country. It is standard procedure for foreign affairs offices to request consular access for people believed to be missing or in danger.

According to the Director, Kenyan authorities have responded to the note stating that they are aware of the abduction and investigating the case. The Ministry has been informed of Kenyan police looking into suspected phone contacts.

"They told us they're chasing the abductors," Fisseha told Fortune.

He said the Ethiopian government remains in the dark about what happened and dismissed any claim of involvement by Kenyan officials.

"We requested the person should first be found to understand what has happened," said Fesseha.

Kenyan authorities send periodic reports to the Ministry, and diplomatic staff in Nairobi are following up on the case, according to the Director.

The abduction of Samson has received the attention of Kenya's parliament. Babu Owino, an MP, had requested a briefing on the investigation on Samson's abduction and growing similar incidents in Kenya.

The disappearance of individuals from the streets of Nairobi has become a growing concern and a source of distress to foreign communities. In May last year, a 35-year old American businessman, Bashir Mohamud, was abducted in Nairobi. A Somali scholar, Abdiwahab Sheikh Abdiswamad, was freed two weeks after being forcefully taken by unidentified individuals. Two South Sudanese activists – Dong Samuel Luak and Aggrey Idri Ezibon – had been abducted in the same city back in 2017.

"What specific measures has the government put in place to protect Kenyans and foreign citizens from abductions that have run rampant in this country?" asked Owino, the Parliamentarian.

PUBLISHED ON Jan 22,2022 [ VOL 22 , NO 1134]

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