Wednesday, April 21, 2021
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Abdirashid Janan: a Victim or a Villain

By Faisal A Roble

As Somalia’s local media is abuzz with the surrender of or “reconciliation” of Abdirashid Janan with President Farmajo, one cannot avoid but wonder whether Mr. Janan is a victim of political football or a villain who is responsible for the death of many innocent people in Gedo region. Until fired on 3/23/2021, he was officially the interior minister for Jubbaland.

Abdirashid Janan-

Abdirashid Janan’s complex saga that captured the imaginations of two countries – Somalia and Kenya – starts with a normal trip he had paid to Mogadishu en route to Addis Ababa in the Fall of 2019. Unbeknown to him, President Farmajo had a different and consequential plan for him – to apprehend him. He was reportedly kidnaped from his hotel and placed under arrest in a cell.

You may ask why? At the time of his visit to Mogadishu, President Farmajo was increasingly consolidating his power by creating a pact with and imitating the strongmen in the Horn of Africa – Isaias Afworke of Eritrea and Abiy of Ethiopia. Farmajo saw the opportunity to join the powerful company of these two rulers and assert a more autocratic rule over the federal member states.

It was an ambition that led President Farmajo to attempt to remap Somalia’s power arrangement. With the assurances of both President Isaias  and Prime Minister Abiy, he began to chip off the powers of federal member states. To that end, he wanted regime change in all the federal member states. But Jubbaland’s leader proved to be stubborn and more dug in.

Amidst a vicious conflict between Jubbaland and Villa Somalia, Mr. Janan, who hails from the same clan as Farmajo, proved to be a political asset in wining Jubbaland. Once Farmajo failed to sway him from Madobe, President of Jubbaland, Villa Somalia ordered its security forces to kidnap the minister while he was still performing his duties for his state. 

Without any legal proceedings, Villa Somalia charged him with “crimes against humanity,” and eventually reported his unproven “crimes” to Amnesty International and to Interpol, thereby asking Kenya to apprehend him.

Amnesty International’s dossier which was completed in February 2020 red this: Mr. Janan is “suspected of responsibility for crimes under international law and other serious human rights violations.” Amnesty International went on to say he must be brought to “justice.” 

Hiding in Kenya’s border towns since then and at times ambushing population centers, often allegedly collaborating with the Kenyan Defense Forces to destabilize Gedo region, Mr. Janan’s actions caused havoc and mayhem in Gedo since he escaped from his imprisonment. Despite Amnesty’s notice to Kenya, Nairobi never bothered to arrest him.

Almost one year after Amnesty International asked Kenya to arrest him, on March 23, 2021, the ever-shifty but utilitarian Janan blessed with extreme survival skills receives a celebrity welcome in Gedo. This time he is welcomed by the very government that accused him of “crimes against humanity.” 

Contrary to Villa Somalia’s change of hearts regarding Mr. Janan’s alleged “crimes,” Amnesty International East Africa office tweeted and called for his arrest again. Meanwhile, in the town of Belet-Hawo, he was being welcomed by two Somali ministers and a caravan of SUVs and a huge number of trucks mounted with guns. Filling the airwaves of Balet-Hawo was the ever-devalued Somali patriotic songs. The very town that suffered because of his invasion was now shifted its gear to receive him as a triumphant hero. Nonetheless, he was wearing a giggle that is usually reserved for both a victim and a villain – a measurement of his lost soul. 

The Somali adage of “la jiifiyaana banaan,” meaning “there are no rules observed” aptly applies to the case of Villa Somalia and how it exploited the sad saga of Mr. Janan. Within the span of one year, it accused him of “crimes against humanity,” as well as a hero who came back to advance peace and the defense of the fatherland. 

To some, Mr. Janan is a villain who has caused havoc and is possibly responsible for the death of hundreds of innocent people in Gedo, not to mention his actions worsening the prevailing famine. To others, he is a victim of political intrigues design by and carried out by the less transparent Villa Somalia where secrecy rules supreme.

In the eyes of yet a large section of the Somali society, despite political wrangling, Mr. Janan is innocent until proven guilty in the court of law. Those who framed him and then freed him must do a lot of explaining to the world, but mainly to the Somali people and to Mr. Janan’s family.

Poor Mr. Janan, TPLF used him in the past; then Kenya exploited his fragile position after his escape. However, he is viciously framed, exploited, and defamed by Villa Somalia. For that, he is indeed more of a victim than a villain. 

Faisal A. Roble
Email: [email protected]
Faisal Roble, a writer, political analyst and a former Editor-in-Chief of WardheerNews, is mainly interested in the Horn of Africa region. He is currently the Principal Planner for the City of Los Angeles in charge of Master Planning, Economic Development and Project Implementation Division.

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