Fleeing former Tanzanian MP, Godbless Lema, says that he is not ready to be deported to his motherland, terming the country as a “persecution paradise.”
The MP, who represented Arusha Urban Constituency before losing his seat in this year’s election, spent Sunday night at Kajiado Police Station after he was intercepted by Kenyan authorities at Ilbisil town.
Lema left his home incommunicado in a taxi accompanied by his wife, Neema Godbless, and their three children, entering Kenya through the Namanga border on Tuesday afternoon, November 3.
Sitting restlessly on a wooden chair at the Kajiado Police Station on Monday, November 9, Lema says that he came to Kenya to seek political asylum because he fears for his life that he is not a criminal on run.
The opposition MP says that he has already reached out to the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) seeking political asylum, fearing that he’ll meet an assassin’s bullet if he is taken back to Tanzania.
His lawyer, Kenya’s George Wajackoyah, says deporting the MP will be a violation of human rights.
The lawyer, who kept the MP company the whole night, says security agencies were trailing the MP with the help of their Kenyan counterparts.
“We are aware that some powerful individuals in Tanzania are pushing for deportation of my client. I have already handed over his family to UNHCR. Deporting a leader seeking political asylum is a total violation of human rights,” says Wajackoya.
He says his client has not recorded any statement at Kajiado Police Station, saying the MP will be handed over to the UNHCR.
However, police sources revealed that plans are at an advanced stage to repatriate the MP to Tanzania.
But Kajiado senior police officers remained tight-lipped on the matter, avoiding journalists.
Lema’s woes are the culmination of a crackdown on Tanzanian’s opposition barely a week after President John Pombe Magufuli was sworn in for a second five-year term in polls rejected by the opposition.