By Isaac Blessings
The United States of America (USA) has in the past banned several public figures including politicians from stepping on their soil. Some of the reasons that lead to the powerful individuals being banned from traveling to the USA include suspected drug traveling, corruption allegation and involvement in drug and human trafficking. This kind of travel bans also makes the immediate family members of the named individuals ineligible to enter the US.
In this article, WoK brings you a list of the banned individuals and reasons that led to such measures being taken by the US government.
Mike Mbuvi Sonko is the latest prominent personality to join the list of individuals banned from stepping in the United States. On March 8th 2022, the US State Department released a statement that categorically banned the former Nairobi county governor and his family from entering the US. The Biden administration stated that the reason for the ban was due to “involvement in significant corruption” during his short but tumultuous stint at City Hall.In response to the statement, Sonko insisted that he has never been found guilty of corruption and that the cases against him are still pending in court awaiting hearing and ruling. He also went on to protect his family stating that none of them has been involved in any malicious dealings or corruption cases during his time as Nairobi county boss.
Sonko’s wife Primrose Mbuvi, his daughters Saumu and Salma and his underage son also suffered the same fate.
Harun is a former Member of Parliament representing Kilome constituency in Makueni county. He served as the first director of the now defunct Kenya Anti-Corruption Authority for a year before he was removed from office after the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) ruled that he was unfit to hold the position. The 73 year old was banned from the US in 2011 after his name appeared in a list of five individuals allegedly dealing in the illicit trade of drug trafficking and narcotics. President Obama regime through Adam Szubin, who was then the US Director of America’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, linked the billionaire to narcotics worth billions of shillings that were seized at the Port of Mombasa in 2004. However, Mwau denied the accusations stating that he is a clean businessman and wasn’t involved in any way in drug trafficking. Prior to the ban, the billionaire resigned from his position as Assistant Minister for Trade over similar allegations.
Amos Wako is the current Busia county senator. He also served as the country’s Attorney General during President Kibaki’s government. The Trump government barred him from stepping in the United States in 2019 over corruption allegations.
“Section 7031(c) of the Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Act, 2019 provides that, in cases where the Secretary of State has credible information that officials of foreign governments have been involved in significant corruption, those individuals and their immediate family members are ineligible for entry into the United States of America (USA)”, a statement by Johnnie Carson, the then Secretary of State read.
However, the former Attorney General dismissed the allegations accusing the US government of being biased, terming the allegations as defamatory and would not help in the fight against corruption.
Family members banned were his wife Flora Ngaira and son Julius.
The former Minister for Transport during President Kibaki’s regime was also banned from traveling to the US. He was banned from stepping in America in October 2005 through a letter from the then US Embassy Consul General, Scott Reidman. However, the letter did not state the reason for the ban but revealed that it would review him in the future.
“The United States Embassy in Nairobi has been informed that on October 18th 2005, the US Department of State found Mr. Chris Murangaru ineligible for any and all visa categories,” read an excerpt from the letter.
Samuel Gichuru and Chris Okemo
Samuel Gichuru was a Former Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Kenya Power and Lighting Company (KPLC) while Chris Okemo was Energy Cabinet Minister in President Moi’s regime. The two are not new faces in the corridor of justice in Kenya. In November 2021, the Supreme Court of Kenya granted the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Noordin Haji the green light to extradite the duo to the Royal Court of Jersey to face corruption charges. The two were banned from stepping to America over corruption allegations that they received money in form of kickbacks after successfully awarding KPLC tenders and contracts to a company based in Jersey. Jersey is a dependent territory of the United Kingdom (UK).
Also Read: Samuel Gichuru Net Worth
Naima Nyakiniywa famously known as ‘Mama Lela’ is a Nairobi-based businesswoman and entrepreneur. Her name also appeared in the list of five Kenyans banned from the US that was released by the President Obama government in 2011. At the time of the release of the Obama 5, she was facing drug trafficking charges in Tanzania after police raided her home in Dar es Salaam. The US Department of State also seized her properties together with Harun Mwau’s in the United States of America (USA).