Abdirahaman Abdi Takow, 22, was found guilty of sneaking into Mandera GK Prison intending to collect information for the militants.
Takow was arrested on September 14, 2017 by two prison officers manning a watch tower at the prison.
Hussein Osman Mursal, a prosecution witness and a warder at the prison told the court during trial that the accused entered the jail through an opening in the perimeter wall.
“I was at the watch tower when I saw the accused person enter the prison through an opening that construction workers were using while working on the perimeter wall,” said Mr Musal.
The witness said the accused informed him that he was going to report a matter to police within the prison.
“He told me that someone had conned him Sh30,000 at the bus park promising to help him travel to Nairobi and he wanted to report that to police,” said the witness.
A second witness told the court that the accused was with another person who was left outside the prison premises and took off on realising that Takow had been arrested.
“Another person was outside peeping through that wall opening and took off when we attempted to get him,” said Ali Mohamed Ibrahim, a prison officer.
Both witnesses told the court that their seniors had informed them of a planned attack on the prison by Al-Shabaab and they therefore remained vigilant.
“The accused claimed that his money was taken just outside the Mandera Police Station where buses are searched by officers before leaving for Nairobi. He could not explain why he did not report the matter to officers doing the screening only to come to the prison,” he said.
An anti-terror Police officer told the court that the accused was a Shabaab spy sent to gather information on the prison, police stations and the military camp in Mandera Town.
“A multi-agency interrogation team concluded that the accused was an Amiyat (Al-Shabaab spying group) dispatched to Mandera to gather information,” said the officer.
The ATPU officer told the court that Al-Shabaab planned to attack several installations in Mandera including the prison, police station, county offices, military camp and the county referral hospital.
“After a successful attack by Al-Shabaab on Somali National Army (SNA) camp at Bulahawa on September 11, 2017, we received [information] that their intelligence group members were in Mandera before the accused was arrested,” he said.
The accused did not explain his presence in the country but said he spent the night in Bulahawa before crossing into Mandera, according to the ATPU Officer’s evidence.
In defence, the accused told the court that he came into Mandera from Mogadishu where he worked as a mechanic at garage at Yarshit but did not give his reasons for visiting.
“I am not one of those people and I don’t associate with those people (Al-Shabaab). I am a refugee,” said Mr Takow.
Mandera Senior Resident Magistrate Peter Areri, while sentencing the accused, said the man did not deny evidence given in court.
“I find the evidence is not denied, rebutted or contravened in any manner. The same is overwhelming against the accused who has not given any reason why he came all the way from Mogadishu and entered the prison camp,” said Mr Areri.
The magistrate said the fact that the accused had been at the police station and then went to the prison camp led to the conclusion that he was surveying the camps for intended terrorism attack.
“He was collecting information to facilitate the terrorist attacks. I find him guilty as charged and sentence the accused to 30 years imprisonment,” ruled Areri.