Bakari Mwanyota Mbwana Trial Timeline



February 23, at 1am: Bakari Mwanyota Mbwana is abducted at around 1 am from his house in Likoni, Mombasa. Commandos ransack Mbwana’s house and find nothing, yet they claim there were guns there. The commandos say they are taking him to Nairobi for questioning. Two white men are involved in this operation. Mbwana was aged 41 at the time.


February 23, at 2pm: Mbwana’s wife, Sauda Omar, fears that police may extrajudicially execute or forcefully disappear her husband if he is not released or presented before the court immediately. She reports his abduction at Inuka Police Station via OB number 24/23/2/21. Then she calls Muslims for Human Rights (MUHURI) for help.


February 24, morning: The search for Mbwana begins. Sauda and MUHURI officials visit all police stations and morgues in Mombasa, but Mbwana remains untraceable.


March 5: After futile attempts to find Mbwana, Sauda and MUHURI address a news conference urging the police to release him.


May 31: Sauda and MUHURI submit a habeas petition to the High Court of Mombasa on behalf of Bakari Mwanyota Mbwana. In the petition, both sue the Inspector-General of police and the Attorney-General. Sauda says in an affidavit that officers, accompanied by two white men, stormed their house in the middle of the night while they slept, breaking down their door. They ransacked the house, “roughed up” Mbwana, and frog-marched him into a white van, saying they were taking him to Nairobi for questioning.


November 18: MUHURI, NYU School of Law’s Global Justice Clinic, and the Center for Constitutional Rights file Freedom of Information (FOIA) requests and focus on grave violations committed by Kenyan units “set up, equipped, trained, funded, and/or guided” by the U.S. government. The FOIA requests target records related to abusive operations by U.S.-backed units from January 1, 2003, to the present. FOIA lists Mbwana among the people abducted.


March 4: The habeas corpus hearing begins at Mombasa High Court. Sauda seeks court intervention to secure her husband’s release from the custody of security agents. MUHURI, through Ernest Cornel, testifies that he recorded the aftermath of Mbwana’s abduction and found the scene consistent with a security operation. He says this was a search mission, not a robbery mission: Mbwana’s house was ransacked, identification documents and communications gadgets confiscated, and nothing was stolen.


May 20: Mombasa High Court Judge John Mativo orders police to file a report of their investigation into the disappearance of Mbwana. The judge says the police report must include call data records and phone coordinates and ascertain at what time and point the phones were switched off. The police are to report back on September 23, 2022.


September 23: The case fails to proceed because Judge Mativo has been transferred. Court says the matter will be mentioned on notice.