3 Kenyans jailed in Ethiopia for 3 years over telecom fraud released in prisoner swap

Three Kenyans who were arrested and later jailed in Ethiopia over telecom fraud have been released following the intervention of the Kenya government leading to a prisoner swap between the two neighbouring states.

The three individuals – Jedrick Mugo, Osborne Namayi and Maxwel Omondi – were released today, Tuesday June 19, 2018, following an agreement on prisoners’ exchange negotiated between President Uhuru Kenyatta and Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed of Ethiopia during his recent visit to Kenya.

The three former inmates were today presented to their families by Foreign Affairs CS Amb Monica Juma after they were released from an Ethiopian jail.

(TOP: Foreign Affairs CS Monica Juma flanked by her CAS Ababu Namwamba addresses the media on June 18, 2018 at Foreign Affairs Offices when she handed over to their families three Kenyans – Jedrick Mugo, Maxwell Omondi and Hesbon Otindo – who have been in Ethiopian jail for the last three years over alleged telecommunication fraud).

According to the Kenya News Agency (KNA), the three had been jailed for the last three years on allegations of telecommunication fraud.

“I want to ask the youth to be careful not to be lured with empty promises and also ensure that if they get jobs outside they follow the right procedures so that government can be able to follow through in case of anything,” said Amb Monica Juma. The CS said the Ministry is in the process of registering and licensing recruitment agencies and called upon Kenyans who want to leave and work outside the country to ensure they verify with the said agencies before leaving lest they be duped.

The three were received by Foreign Affairs PS Macharia Kamau last Saturday June 16, 2018 at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport before being transferred to Mater Hospital for medical check-up.

Amb Juma CS explained that after the three came back to the country on Saturday, they were taken to Mater hospital for checkup and will continue to visit the hospital for any psychological counselling.

But even with the release of the three, eight more Kenyans are still being held in Ethiopia with some awaiting court hearings while others are awaiting prosecution.

A colleague of the three released Kenyans, Zakayo Muriuki Gatimu, was not as lucky and succumbed to his illness in an Ethiopian jail in late 2016 after his pleas to the Kenya government went unanswered.

Gatimu, who just like his released colleagues was an IT consultant, died at Kalit Prison in Addis Ababa where he had been held since January 10, 2016.

According to NairobiNews, Gatimu who had been contracted by BSS Ltd, had been arrested together with Jedrick Mugo – who was contracted by Space Engineering – as soon as he arrived in the country for a site survey before the installation of a VSat Network in Jigiga, about 620km north-west of Addis. The two were to work on the same VSat project.

They were however arrested and charged with installing communication equipment without a licence with an additional charge of abetting terrorism.

NairobiNews states that at the Kalit Prison, the two found two other Kenyan telecoms consultants – Osborne Otindo Namai and Maxwell Odhiambo Omondi – who had been held there since October 2014.

Osborne Otindo Namai and Maxwell Odhiambo Omondi were however contracted by a  different Ethiopian firm, Skyline Communications, but were also charged with interfering with telecommunications facilities and supporting terrorism.

The two, together with Jedrick Mugo, were the lucky ones as they have been able to get out alive.


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