Former Tanzanian MP for Arusha Urban Constituency, Godbless Lema does not want to return back home over fears of persecution.
Speaking to the Nation, Lema who was on Sunday evening arrested alongside his wife Neema, two sons (Allbless and Terrence) and daughter Brilliance after entering Kenya through the Namanga Border point, said he is afraid for his life.
A teary Chadema Party leader said he was only seeking asylum in Kenya because his motherland was a “persecution paradise”.
He claimed that his travel to Kenya was occasioned by death threats and being trailed by unmarked cars in Arusha.
“I was being trailed by unmarked cars back in Arusha. I and family also received a death threat. I decided not to ignore and left with my family. Tanzania remains a persecution ground for opposition leaders,” said Lema who is being held in a separate room away from the main cell at the Kajiado Police Station.
He maintained that he is not running away from justice but rather from an imminent assassination due to his political stance.
According to his lawyer, George Luchiri Wajackoyah, Tanzanian authorities have been trailing the politician with the help of their Kenyan counterparts.
“We are aware that some powerful individuals in Tanzania are pushing for the deportation of my client. I have already handed over his family to UNHCR. Deporting a leader seeking political asylum is a violation of human rights,” said Wanjackoya.
He also pleaded with the Kenyan government not to deport his client to a land where opposition leaders are being persecuted.
“Kenya authorities must not return my client to Tanzania where opposition MPs are being persecuted. A person fleeing from persecution, according to Article 2 of the UNHCR Statute of 1951, does not need to present documents to any authority,” he continued.
Earlier, Amnesty International Kenya urged the government to give Lema asylum, noting that his going back to Tanzania could lead to “political persecution and imprisonment”.
“Kenya must not violate the internationally recognised principle of non-refoulment. The international principle is upheld by our own laws. It prohibits Kenya from turning away people at the border or returning them to their country where they would be at risk of danger,” Amnesty Kenya said.