Safaricom had already flagged a terror suspect accused of making huge M-Pesa withdrawals allegedly to finance the dusitD2 Hotel attack, a Nairobi court heard Tuesday.
Hassan Abdi Nur’s M-Pesa agency account was closed in early January, about a week before the January 15 attack on the hotel located within the 14 Riverside complex in Nairobi’s upscale Westlands suburb.
Defence lawyer Jamal Bake Tuesday disclosed that Mr Nur visited Safaricom headquarters in Westlands thrice seeking an explanation on the closure of his M-Pesa agency, until his arrest on January 22 when he went to the company’s Waiyaki Way offices for a fourth time.
Mr Nur is being held alongside seven suspects arrested in connection with the attack that left 21 people dead and many others nursing gunshot wounds.
Without indicating the exact date in which the suspect’s agent account was closed, Mr Bake said that his client was always told that he would be contacted and given an explanation, which was never given until his arrest.
Mr Nur is an M-Pesa agent whom Anti-Terrorism Police Unit (ATPU) believe received huge amounts that passed through his account allegedly to facilitate terrorism activities in Kenya.
The ATPU had already told the court that he received Ksh9 million ($90,000) from South Africa, of which he withdrew about Ksh5.2 million ($52,000) in a day and sent it to Somalia.
While protesting against the 30 days that the ATPU has requested the court to keep the suspects detained, Mr Bake insisted that his client has not been linked to terrorism.
But the prosecution, through lawyer Duncan Ondimu, urged the court to consider the gravity of the allegations levelled against the suspects as well as their seriousness.
“Detaining these suspects would facilitate knowing other persons who facilitated the attack hence the need to pursue all these angles, the court should consider what these suspects are likely to face in case of conviction,” said Mr Ondimu.
According to Mr Bake, Mr Nur went to Safaricom on January 7, 10 and 17.
The dusitD2 Hotel attack occurred on January 15 and 16.
Mr Nur was arraigned in court Tuesday alongside Ismael Sadiq Abitham, Ali Khamisi Ali, Abdinoor Maalima Osmail, Abdullahi Muhumed Hassan and Sophia Njoki Mbogo.
Mr Abitham is a social media representative at Horizon TV, Mr Ali is a marketing manager at the station, Mr Osmail is a Kenya School of Law student, Mr Hassan operates a parcel business and Ms Mbogo is a manager at Diamond Trust Bank’s Eastleigh branch.
Protest against detention
Seven other suspects have already been detained for 30 days while a woman who procured insurance covers for two vehicles used by the attackers is being held for 15 days, but this particular lot unlike the others has protested against detention.
Ms Mbogo told the court that Safaricom authorised withdrawals made by Mr Nur.
Mr Osmail, who has been accused of withdrawing Ksh100 million ($1 million) from M-Pesa, has told the court that the monies were from different tills of his M-Pesa business.