For many years, the United States government has imposed travel bans on several prominent Kenyans and their families for various reasons ranging from corruption to drug trafficking.
In 2011, during the tenure of President Barrack Obama, two Kenyans were declared illegible to enter the US after the Obama administration released a list of suspected and most wanted drug traffickers in the world.
Other prominent personalities have been banned from travelling to the US over allegations of bribery and corruption, with the latest addition to that list being former Nairobi Governor, Mike Sonko.
In 2011, the Obama administration released a list of five individuals who were banned from the US over alleged dealings in drug trafficking, especially the narcotics business. In the list, was the name of former Kilome Member of Parliament, Harun Mwau.In a presser the same year, then US Director of America’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, Adam Szubin, linked the businessman to narcotics worth billions of shillings that were seized in the country in 2004.“Mr Mwau is viewed as among the most powerful and active narcotics traffickers in the region. He is involved in international and domestic drug trafficking,” the US official stated at the time.
However, Mwau denied the allegations. Prior to the release of the Obama list, Mwau resigned from the government as the Assistant Minister for Trade over similar allegations. He stated that he wanted to clear his name, maintaining that he had never been found guilty of the allegations.
Also in the 2011 Obama 5 was Kenyan businesswoman Naima Nyakiniywa, who at the time was facing drug trafficking charges in Tanzania after a raid by police officers in her Dar es Salaam house.
The businesswoman popularly known as Mama Lela was banned from entering the US with Obama directing that the government seizes property belonging to Mwau and Nyakiniywa in the states.
On March 8, the US State Department released a statement revealing that former Nairobi governor was barred from travelling to the US, together with his family over alleged corrupt dealings during his reign as governor.
The former county boss, however, insisted that he had never been found guilty of corruption stating that the cases against him were still pending in court. He also defended his family stating that none of them received tenders from the county government during his tenure.
In 2019, former Attorney General together with his family, were barred from travelling to the US over allegations that the Busia Senator was involved in corrupt dealings.
“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,” Johnnie Carson, the then Secretary of State in the President Donald Trump’s administration, stated.
In his response, Wako distanced himself from the allegations accusing the US government of bias.
“I am against corruption and I believe I as an individual and the people of Kenya as a whole are entitled to full disclosure on general allegations of corruption against me. These nebulous accusations and aspersions do not help in the fight against corruption and can be termed defamatory in nature,” he stated.
In October 2005, former Transport Minister Chris Murungaru was declared ineligible to enter the US. Through a letter to the Minister, the then US Embassy Consul General, Scott Reidman, informed the Minister in the Mwai Kibaki administration that he would not be eligible for any of their visas.However, the US government did not clearly state why the Minister had been barred from the US, adding that it would review his visa application in the future.
Chris Okemo and Samuel Gichuru
For many years, former Kenya Power CEO Samuel Gichuru and former Cabinet Minister Chris Okemo have spent a lot of time in the corridors of justice over corruption allegations.
In November 2021, the Supreme Court granted the Director of Public Prosecutions, Noordin Haji the go-ahead to extradite the two former government officials to the Royal Court of Jersey to face corruption charges. Jersey is a dependent territory of the United Kingdom (UK).
“The United States Embassy in Nairobi has been informed that on October 18, the US Department of State found you ineligible for any and all visa categories,” read the letter.The two were blocked from accessing America over allegations that they received kickbacks after awarding KPLC contracts to a Jersey-based company.