Police chief: How Mbowe planned to hire former commandos

Thursday September 16 2021
Mbowe pic

Chadema's national Chairman, Mr Freeman Mbowe at the High Court.

By Hadija Jumanne
By James Magai

Dar es Salaam. Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Ramadhani Kingai yesterday told a court in Dar es Salaam that Freeman Mbowe, who is Chadema leader, sought recruitment of retired or expelled army commandos to carry out acts of terrorism in various part of Tanzania.

Mr Kingai, who is also Kinondoni Regional Police Commander (RPC), was giving evidence in a high-profile case in which Mr Mbowe and three others are charged with the unbailable terrorism-related offences and economic sabotage.

Mr Mbowe, who is accused of financing terrorism, has remained in custody for about two months.

He was arrested in Mwanza in July just hours after his party was about to hold a public forum to push for the writing of a new constitution of Tanzania.

He was transported to Dar es Salaam before being taken before the Kisutu Resident Magistrate’s Court along three other men--Adam Kasekwa, Halfan Hassan and Mohamed Lingw’enya.

Prosecution has alleged that between May 1 and August 5, 2020 at Aishi Hotel, Hai District in Kilimanjaro Region and in Dar es Salaam, Morogoro and Arusha, Mr Mbowe conspired with other men to commit terrorism offences.

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Prosecutor also alleged that Mr Mbowe planned blow up fuel stations and market areas in various regions.

Yesterday, Mr Kingai told the court that sometimes in July 2020 he received a phone call directing him to report to the office of the former Director of Criminal Investigations (DCI), Mr Robert Boaz, for some consultations.

Inside the DCI’s office, the witness told the court, he was introduced to Lieutenant Denis Urio whom, according to Mr Boaz, had crucial information about the planned criminal acts.

“Lieutenant Urio told us of a special criminal group that was being coordinated by Mr Freeman Mbowe with the intention of harming government leaders. He told us the group was planning to blow up fuel stations and markets, and block vehicles on highways so that they could conduct robberies,” claimed ACP Kingai.

He added: “He (Lieutenant Urio) said the criminal acts were set to be carried out in Dar es Salaam, Mbeya, Moshi, Arusha and Mwanza regions.”

The witness told the court that after listening to Lieutenant Urio, Mr Boaz directed him to open an investigation file concerning the statements.

Mr Kingai told the court that Lieutenant Urio told them that Mr Mbowe had promised to reward him (Lieutenant Urio) with a high rank position in the army after the 2020 General Election when he would be in power.

He also claimed that the alleged criminal group was preparing to blow up fuel stations and markets towards the 2020 General Election with the intention of showing that Tanzania was ungovernable.

According to the witness, Mr Boaz directed the formation of a police team to follow up on the conduct of the suspects before they could cause damage.

He said upon arrest, the second accused person Adam Hassani Kasekwa was found in possession of a pistol with three rounds of ammunitions and 58 pellets of narcotic drugs.

Mr Kingai told the court that he was the one who recorded the cautioned statement of the second accused person, Adam Kasekwa, and asked the court to admit it as evidence.

The request was strongly opposed by lead defence counsel Peter Kibatala who asked the court not to admit the statement because it was not made voluntarily.

The lawyers claimed the accused gave the statement after he was tortured under the supervision of Mr Kingai.

Mr Kibatala also asked the court to reject the statement because it was taken outside the time prescribed by law.

Mr Kibatala alleged that while Mr Kasekwa was arrested on August 5, 2020 in Moshi, Kilimanjaro Region, the accused statement was recorded two days later (August 7, 2020). The law requires that cautioned statement of an accused person be recorded within eight hours after his or her arrest.

Presiding judge Yusuph Siyani had to temporarily adjourn for hearing of a case within a case to decide on admissibility of the cautioned statement.