Comorian family’s misery over son lost in Tanzania

Saturday October 14 2017

Mr Abdou Soimadu Mchangama (left), the father

Mr Abdou Soimadu Mchangama (left), the father of Ammar Abdou Soimadu who went missing in Tanzania four months ago, and the family lawyer, Advocate Larifou Said, speak to journalists in Comoro as they left for Tanzania to look for the Kampala International University student. PHOTO | HABARIZACOMORES.COM 

By Khalifa Said

Dar es Salaam. A Comorian family has camped in Dar es Salaam in a desperate search for their son Ammar Abdou Soimadu, who was arrested by Tanzanian police in June but whose whereabouts have since become a mystery.

Although the police have admitted to have arrested and later release the 26-year-old who had been held over alleged links with terrorism, his family claim they had not been able to trace his whereabouts since his arrest.

“It is so painful that we have for the past four months not been able to know where my son is. We lost contact with Ammar since June this year when he was arrested by Tanzania police over terrorism suspicions,” Ammar’s father, Abdou Soimadu Mchangama, told The Citizen this week.

The family reported the mysterious disappearance at the Msimbazi Police Station this month after numerous attempts to trace him proved futile.

The young Comorian, a student at the Kampala International University in Uganda, was arrested in Moshi on June 26 this year.

Although the police said that they released Ammar three days later (on June, 29), his whereabouts, however, have ever since remained a mystery.

The family’s lawyer, advocate Larifou Said, said that Ammar first came to Tanzania in 2011 for studies at the Al-Maktoum College of Engineering and Technology located at Mbezi, Tangi Bovu, Dar es Salaam.

According to the lawyer, Ammar successfully completed his studies in Tanzania and went to Uganda to join the Kampala International University (KIU) for further studies.

He came back to Tanzania in 2016 to celebrate Eid-ul-fitr on an invitation by a Tanzanian friend. “After the festivity, Ammar was arrested on June 26 on his way back to Uganda after the bus he boarded was flagged down by the police in Moshi for inspection,” says the lawyer.

Ammar’s family became aware of their son’s arrest and subsequent disappearance after two weeks elapsed without hearing from him.

Strange circumstances

This, according to Ammar’s father, Abdou Soimadu Mchangama, was a strange circumstance as he had a tendency of calling his parents back in Comoro every Friday.

“It was through consultations with his relatives and friends in Tanzania that we became aware of the misfortune,” said the father who has been in the country for over a month now as he tries to search for his son.

The family says the police have confirmed to have arrested Ammar and has provided the family with a reference number RB6652/2017, but was later released, though this has not been supported with evidence.

Arusha Regional Police Commander Charles Mkumbo confirmed Ammar was arrested but reiterated that he was later released as his family reported.

He said he’s not aware of his current whereabouts. Asked what evidence police have to prove to Ammar’s family that their son was truly released, Mr Mkumbo said that tens of hundreds of people report to the central police station where Ammar was taken and that it is impossible to record the release of all suspects.

“The procedure is very clear. Once police become certain that the suspect is innocent, they let him go. That’s the procedure and that’s how it is done,” said the police boss.

The family’s lawyer said criminal investigation officers at the ministry of Home Affairs have confirmed to them that Ammar was held by the police but was later released.

“However, no single evidence was provided to us to corroborate police claims that Ammar was released on that date as they claim,” said advocate Said. He asked the government and its security and investigation organs to help them get their son back. “If he was not arrested in the first place, he wouldn’t have disappeared,” he said.

Ammar’s father said it is unintelligible that his son has been associated with terrorism. “He has no records of any crime or any suspicious activities,” said Mr Mchangama. “He’s polite and education-focused.”

Mr Mchangama also claimed that the Comorian embassy in Dar es Salaam has already written to Tanzanian Foreign Affairs ministry, which, according to him, admitted the young Comorian was arrested, but was later released.

Foreign ministry spokesperson Ms Mindi Kasiga could not be reached yesterday as her mobile phone went unswered.