Mercy Mwanaisha, a resident of Kilifi County recalls the last time she saw her fifteen-year-old son like it was yesterday. Christopher Bahati, a top student in a school only two miles away from his parent’s home disappeared two months ago after a games tournament.
At first, the mother of four was convinced that his teenage son was misled by one of his school friends to an unknown place. “I thought Bahati took a detour on his way home like he always does together with his friends. To my shock, he did not return home that day and I have not set my eyes on him since then.”
According to Bahati’s friends, the 15-year-old was bundled into a car by a driver who pretended to have a puncture and asked the school going boys to assist as he changed the tyre. They, however, recount the man forcefully throwing their friend Bahati into the old pick-up car and driving off fast.
Police have found out that the strange man frequently visited the school’s watchman Andrew Njoka and had over time generated a good rapport. Njoka, who is currently being held by the authorities for questioning is the likely suspect in this case after fellow subordinate staff admitted to having seen him in the school’s vicinity severally.
On further investigation, police found out that the watchman was once involved with Al Shabaab networks while leaving in Garissa before he moved to Kilifi where he was employed as a subordinate stuff in the school whose name remains concealed.
Njoka has been accused of having an inconsistent alibi over the disappearance prompting the police to use other channels to source for information on the said militant who goes by the pseudo ‘Emir kamili’.
The Lamu officers say they are in collaboration with other security agencies and are on a manhunt to ensure the man is brought to book and the 15-year-old is returned to his parents.
Multiple Cases of students disappearing from schools and later joining militant groups have been recorded in recent weeks. The government is now calling upon institutions to assume responsibility in order to protect minors from radicalisation and exposure to violent extremism which leads to recruitment into terrorist groups.
Also, religious institutions are expected to play a role in curbing violent extremism by correctly educating and preaching to congregants as well as new converts in order to deny rogue religious leaders a chance to skew religion to fit violent extremists’ agenda.