A Kenyan Muslim teacher has been sentenced to 20 years in jail for radicalising primary school children in Kilifi County in the coastal region.
Samuel Wanjala Wabwile alias Salim Mohamed was however acquitted on Thursday of being a member of and recruiting six children for Somalia-based militia group Al Shabaab.
Wabwile was accused of promoting extreme jihadism including violence as a means of advancing religious change by teaching children to fight at a mosque where he was an Imam.
In her judgment, Mombasa Principal Magistrate Diana Mochache said the accused preyed on the pupils’ feeble mind to impart his ideological beliefs.
“The accused took advantage of the poverty rate in the region by offering the children some food using it as a bait to trap them, most children walked bare feet and their uniforms were tattered,” said Ms Mochache, adding that Wabwile “deserves no mercy, he needs protection from himself, he has already sold his soul to the devil and was on the process of selling others (souls).”
The accused denied having committed the offence and instead blamed teachers of having coached the children to testify falsely against him, the court said.
Only one pupil spoke well of him but the magistrate said having observed the child’s demeanour, the learner withheld some information from the court, an indicator that the minor was radicalised.
The accused is said to have committed the offence on diverse dates between January 8, 2013 and June 19, 2015 at Gotani location in Kilifi County.
On his acquittal, the court said“Having established that the accused is not a member of the outlawed Al Shabaab, it therefore follows that he could not have recruited the pupils to become members of the Al-Shabaab.”
The accused is a former Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and IT student at Maseno University where he was admitted in 2011 but was later expelled.