Court blocks arrest of KQ staff Gire Ali, orders reinstatement
The High Court has stopped security authorities from arresting or prosecuting a security chief at the JKIA, accused of filming and sharing video of a Chinese airline that landed last week with 239 passengers.
Justice Weldon Korir also ordered Kenya Airways to reinstate Mr Gire Ali, whom it suspended for recording the video on February 26, that exposed poor screening for the deadly coronavirus at the international airport.
The judge issued the orders after Mr Ali, KQ’s assistant security agent, moved to court complaining that he was being targeted.
Through laywer Danstan Omari, he said he witnessed the landing of the China Southern Airlines plane at the Nairobi airport, contrary to communication by KQ that flights from China had been suspended.
He said the aircraft remained unattended to for more than an hour and that the only people in the vicinity were Chinese media crew, who were taking pictures using their phones and reporting and recording everything.
After his shift ended at 9:30am, Mr Ali left for a two-day rest but between 2pm and 3pm that day, he received a call from unknown persons, who said he was urgently needed for questioning at KQ’s corporate investigations office.
He did not go since the caller did not give reasons for the summons.
Mr Ali later received another call indicating that if he failed to show up at 6pm, he would be picked up since details of his location were available.
Fearing for his life, he reported the matter at Kahawa Wendani Police Station and requested to be placed in safe custody.
The policemen declined to do so but gave him their contacts, asking him to contact them in case of an emergency.
Mr Ali said he also got a WhatsApp message from his immediate supervisor, Mr Bernard Mbugua, asking for his whereabouts and why his phone had been switched off.
On February 27, Mr Ali went to the KQ corporate investigations office and was questioned from 11am to 5pm.
In court documents, Mr Ali’s lawyer claimed he was threatened with an investigation involving the Anti-Terrorism Police Unit (ATPU) and that before he reported the matter to police, several individuals had been following him, possibly with the intention of abducting him.
“Kenya Airways seems to be keen on punishing the applicant for exposing to the nation a threat to their life [yet] there was a directive from the same offices suspending aircraft from China from coming into Kenya,” Mr Omari said.
“The decision is made is made in bad faith and in brazen violation of public interest. The applicant is suffering [yet] he never contravened any rules and regulations.”
In his affidavit, Mr Ali says the plane landed between 7am and 7.30am and that he received it since the security agent assigned to it, Mr Patroba Omungi, was not there.
“I was very much perturbed and shocked to see the… plane landing at the airport while earlier, on January 31, my employer suspended service to Guangzhou, China, information which was communicated [via] Kenya Airways’ official Twitter handle and was in the public domain.”
Kenya Airways had not revoked the notice on the suspension of flights from China.
The complainant said that after all the passengers alighted and left, he saw Mr Omungi within the restricted security area.
He said he asked Mr Omungi what had transpired and that the latter then requested to have a picture of him standing next to the plane taken.
“I took several photos of him. Those photos would later be deleted upon the realisation that Mr Omungi had already posted a photo of himself with the aircraft in the background on his WhatsApp status,” narrated Mr Ali.
Mr Ali sued KQ, the Director of Public Prosecution, the Directorate of Criminal Investigations, the ATPU and the Attorney-General.
He listed the Kenya Airports Authority, Kenya Aviation Workers Union, Institute of Huma Resource Management and the Health, Defence and Interior Cabinet secretaries as interested parties.