Trio wanted by detectives over Finance Bill protests vow to push on

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Activists Boniface Mwangi, Hussein Khalid, and Hanifa Adan said they were informed that they were persons of interest being sought over the countrywide protests against the Finance Bill.

Since last Friday, The Eastleigh Voice reporter Hanifa Adan, activist Boniface Mwangi and Haki Executive Director Hussein Khalid have been hiding from security agencies after learning they were being trailed for possible kidnapping.

The trio, who spoke to journalists after presenting themselves to the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) on Monday, said they were informed that they were persons of interest being sought for alleged roles in the ongoing countrywide protests against the Finance Bill 2024.

"We were at the mortuary last Friday for the post-mortem of Rex, when vehicles of persons who introduced themselves as the DCI were spotted nearby and they claimed they were there to arrest some of the people who were there. That is how we raised the alarm," Hussein said.

Still, he vowed to carry on with the protests on Tuesday.

Rex Masai is one of the two people who have died in the protests, the other being 21-year-old Evans Kiratu.

Saying 'no' to intimidation

On his part, Mwangi, who on Friday confessed to having been a victim of a foiled abduction that forced him to go underground, said he got tired of hiding in his own country.

"The last three nights have been tough on some of us. We didn't go home. We spent our nights in different places and it wasn't nice because you can't move out of the corridors. You are actually in a house prison," he said.

Hanifa said she was frightened by what was happening (the ongoing abductions) and that she wondered why heavily armed security officers would be deployed at the entrance to the DCI headquarters as they walked in.

"I am so shaken by what is going on but we keep moving forward. We meet tomorrow. We are not going to be intimidated. We looked like terror suspects when we were coming in. I do not understand what is going on in this country," she said.

"These protesters only have firimbis (whistles) and vuvuzelas. Why is the government so aggressive and abducting people because they are protesting? We are demanding the release of Shad; if the DCI says they don't have him, they should find him," Hanifa said.

Shad Khalif, a protester, was taken from a shopping centre in South B, Nairobi, on Sunday evening. His friends and family reported that he was kidnapped by unknown people who followed him to that neighbourhood.

The Eastleigh Voice reporter Hanifa Adan, activist Boniface Mwangi and Haki Africa Executive Director Hussein Khalid at the DCI headquarters along Kiambu Road on June 24, 2024. (Photo: Hafsa Hassan/EV)

Staying the course

The three, visibly shaken but adamant in their resolve to stay the course, said living in fear in their own country was the last thing they expected after only participating in protests that expressed the will of the majority of Kenyans.

Though fatigued from three nights of hiding, Hanifa said she had fully resolved to continue with the push for the bill to be scrapped.

"I am exhausted and drained. I cannot keep hiding anymore. I do not understand why we have to hide, as peaceful protesting is all we are doing. We demanded answers on why people are being abducted and coming back psychologically damaged. We need to know ... we cannot live like we are in the Moi and KANU era," she said.

Mwangi added that despite the woes, plans for the demonstrations remain and that he would join other protesters on Tuesday.

"Whether we are going to be beaten, arrested or even killed, we shall resist and reject the Finance Bill. Tomorrow is a holiday in this country. If you are not participating in the protests, stay at home. We are going to occupy the entire country. The dialogue we want is to reject the Finance Bill," he said.

Ruto criticised

The trio further questioned President William Ruto's call for dialogue on the matter, terming it pretentious as his officers' actions did not match his words.

"You say you want to talk to people yet you send officers to abduct and intimidate people. You call people to the table. You don't forcefully pick them up or threaten them. This has to be very clear to everyone: you cannot stop an idea whose time has come. The time when politicians made decisions without being held to account is far gone," Hussein said.

As the countdown to Tuesday's protests gathered pace across the country, more churches and private organisations pledged to support protesters, signalling increasing support for the cause.

Among them were the Kenya National Union of Nurses (KNUN), which asked its members to voluntarily attend to protesters, and the National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC), which welcomed Gen Zs' decision to participate in national issues by expressing their stand on the bill through peaceful demonstrations.

Interestingly, some police officers have also taken to social media to show support for the protests, with some playing anti-finance bill songs in the background of their posts.

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