Did Uhuru defy the judge when he destroyed drugs ship?
President Uhuru Kenyatta yesterday witnessed the destruction of a drug laden ship aboard a military helicopter off the port of Mombasa.
The President who on Thursday declared that holes will be poked into the ship carrying 377 kilogrammes of heroin watched from above a Puma helicopter as Navy personnel in three warships, two patrol boats and two tugboats detonated explosives in the ship.
The explosion which occurred 18 nautical miles (33.3km) off the coast sank the ship 353 metres underwater in a well coordinated operation witnessed by regional police chiefs.
Chief of the Kenya Defence Force General Julius Karangi and the Inspector General of Police David Kimaiyo also circled the location in another helicopter as did some Cabinets Secretaries.
The destruction was made barely three hours after the Mombasa High Court rejected a plea by the State to destroy the ship. Judge Maureen Odero in her ruling said that there was no good reason as to why the ship should be destroyed.
On August 27, Chief Magistrate Maxwell Gicheru sitting in Mombasa had also rejected the state’s request to destroy the ship stating that he would fast track the hearing of the case.
The High Court ruling was made at 1.30pm while the destruction took place at 4.30pm.
Justice Odero had ruled that it was proper for the state to destroy the drugs but not the ship. The judge had also said although no one has claimed ownership of the ship, it was in order to wait for the completion of the proceedings.
The Director of Public Prosecutions Keriako Tobiko had appeared before Justice Odero seeking to overturn the orders made by the magistrate.
Tobiko told the judge that the magistrate had treated the matter as an ordinary one and thus refuted the state’s request to destroy the ship which was carrying a consignment of drugs.
The consignment of drugs was transferred from the GSU base near State House Mombasa under heavy guard to the port. The drugs were weighed and loaded into the ship.
A team from the Bomb Disposal Unit of the military was used to assemble the explosives. The drugs were then packed into the ship before it was towed into the deep seas.
The 33 kilometers from the shore is regarded as the Explosives Disposal Zone used for military exercises. Explosions can safely be conducted without interfering with marine life.
A plume of white smoke rose about two hundred feet high from the sinking ship after the 4:15pm detonation.
Director of Criminal Investigations Muhoro Ndegwa was on the MV Jasiri deck to witness the destruction.
“This is a statement to drug dealers that Kenya will not be their play ground. The presence of the President should send a strong message that Kenya will act decisively on drug traffickers. This should be done as often as the drugs are seized. The ship was destroyed according to the law that stipulates that such ships can be seized and the government can do what it wishes to do with it,” Ndegwa said. He was accompanied by Deputy Inspector General of Police Grace Kaindi.
The ship was intercepted off Kenya’s coast in Lamu by Kenya Navy patrol ships sailing towards the port of Mombasa last month.
The drugs were extracted from diesel reservoir inside the ship after it was subjected to verification by a multi-agency operation comprising military and anti narcotic officers dispatched from Nairobi.
The team of anti narcotic officers are in the coast probing the smuggling of drugs allegedly controlled by local and international drug lords.