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Petty Theft, Forgery and Assault: How President Bihi Appointed a Common Criminal as a Human Rights Commissioner

The Somaliland National Human Rights Commission has distanced itself from a statement made by one of its commissioners on Facebook that called for a harsher treatment of Thursday’s opposition-organized protests.

Mr. Omar Mohamoud Hussein (Godad), a lawyer by trade and a staunch supporter and an appointee of President Bihi mused that “They speak of injuries, perhaps they should’ve been shot in the heart as they contribute nothing but chaos to the nation”.

The Somaliland Human Rights Commission stated its regrets regarding Mr. Godad’s statement and that it does not represent teh commission, and reiterated the independent nature of the commission and that Mr. Godad’s statement was detrimental to the commission’s reputation and its relationship with the public. In addition, the statement indicated that Mr. Godad has been repeatedly warned against actions contrary to the commission’s bylaws.

Although the government’s watchdog rarely finds faults in government actions including a major uptick in extrajudicial arrests of citizens and journalists, the Human Rights Commission was established by Parliamentary Act No. 39/2010 and its commissioners are jointly appointed by the President, Guurti and Chief Justice, and have immunity to ensure their impartiality and independence. The prime directive of the commission is to ensure civil liberties and human rights are safeguarded in Somaliland.

At the helm of the Agency is Mr. Mohamed Barud Ali, a veteran and highly educated politician who was severely tortured and spent years in solitary confinement under Dictator Barre’s regime for being a member of UFO. Mr. Barud’s ordeal is chronicled in this NPR story.

Chances of you hearing of Mr. Omar Mohamoud Hussein (Godad) are slim, but he has been around for a while and has exhibited a brazen pattern of corruption and outright theft dating back to his days as a District Court Judge under former President Ahmed Mahamoud Siilaanyo.

When Mr. Godad served as a District Court Judge, he was accused and subsequently fired for stealing court-mandated alimony funds known as Nafaqo in Somaliland. Nafaqo is part of a divorce settlement in Islamic law that a husband is obligated to pay their former spouse and children, and in some circumstances of delinquency, the funds are paid directly to the court to be disbursed to the family to ensure compliance. According to sources familiar with the accusation and Mr. Godad’s judicial record, these funds went directly to him, and as a result, Mr. Godad was removed from office.

On August 3rd, the former Governor of Somaliland Central Bank Mr. Ali Ibrahim Jama (Baghdadi) wrote a letter to the Police, the Attorney General’s Office, and the Human Rights Commission to bring to their attention a check in the amount of 25 million Somaliland Shillings written by Mr. Godad with a forged signature of the Central Bank Governor and asked that they investigation the financial crime committed by Mr. Godad.

Sources add that following an investigation by the Police CID, the Attorney General’s Office has concluded that a crime has been committed and promptly submitted a request to the Office of the President to start the process to revoke Mr. Godad’s immunity to allow the criminal proceedings to begin. By law, Human Rights Commissioners, much like Election Commissioners, have immunity to ensure their impartiality and independence.

According to multiple sources close to the government body entrusted with safeguarding human rights, Mr. Godad has assaulted a random person at the Commission’s Head Quarters for allegedly parking in his spot. Sources add the unnamed civilian assaulted by Mr. Godad suffered a broken collarbone and has lodged a complaint against Mr. Godad to the Human Rights Commission. It is unclear if assault and injury was referred to law enforcement agencies or any disciplinary action was taken as a result.

Sources privy to the internal discourse at the Human Rights Commission about Mr. Godad stated that the other commissioners and especially the Chairman, Mr. Mohamed Barud Ali are distraught but are powerless to remove Mr. Godad as a commissioner due to his immunity and the fact that criminal complaint filed by the Attorney General on the forgery case is still pending with the President.

It is unclear if President Muse Bihi Abdi, who appointed Mr. Godad to the human rights watchdog, was aware of his misconduct as a District Court judge under his predecessor and why the President has not taken action after almost a year of receiving the criminal complaint from the Attorney General’s Office on Mr. Godad’s forgery allegation.

Efforts to reach Chairman Barud, Mr. Godad, and other members of the Human Rights Commission for comments on this incident and Mr. Godad’s past behavior, including the allegation of misappropriation of Nafaqo or alimony funds, forging of the Central Bank Chairman’s signature on a check, the pending case, and assault of a member of the public on the commissioner’s premises were unsuccessful.

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Notice: This is an article by Somaliland Chronicle. It is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial 4.0 International License. Under this license, all reprints and non-commercial distribution of this work is permitted.

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