Sheikh Mohammed Omar Akito, one of the lions of Eritrea’s patriotic movements of the 1950s, has been kidnapped by the PFDJ from Yemen and is now languishing in an Eritrean prison.
Akito, believed to be in his late 80s, was living in Djibouti when he was taken ill, and went to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia for treatment. On his return to Djibouti, he transited via Sana’a, Yemen and that’s where his “relatives” boarded him, against his will, on a plane to Asmara.
One of the co-ordinators of this “operation” is believed to be Eritrea’s ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Mohammed Omer Ismail, who is related to Akito by marriage.
Sheikh Mohammed Omar Akito, a revered politician of the fifties and an unwavering patriot, was languishing in Djibouti after the Eritrean regime confiscated his properties and left him in destitution.
Akito had come to Djibouti when the country enjoyed a good relationship with Eritrea. In the summer of 2008, the forces of the two countries faced each other in a minor clash over a border dispute. The situation is still tense.
Sheikh Akito, who is in his late eighties, is in bad health.
In the 1940s, Akito was one of the Eritrean leaders who dealt with the UN commission that was sent to Eritrea to conduct a fact-finding tour and report to the Security Council on the situation in the country to help the UN determine the future of the country which was then under the British Military Administration.
In March 1952, Sheikh Akito was elected as a member of the federal parliament representing Dankalia. A staunch supporter of Eritrean independence and a brave patriot, he served his country with sincerity and integrity.
When the Ethiopian emperor began to encroach on the federal arrangement with Eritrea, Akito was one of the parliamentarians who opposed the Ethiopian move and struggled to safeguard the federal arrangement.
In the early sixties, when the Ethiopian government lowered the Eritrean flag, Akito and a few others publicly opposed the move and exposed themselves to jail and harassment by the pro-union members and the Ethiopian security. Several patriots left for exile while Akito stayed behind, facing continuous imprisonment and harassement.
A free spirit, it was inevitable that he would run afoul of the PFDJ and, in July 1999, he was imprisoned for years, despite his advanced age. He had moved to Djibouti after his release from prison.
Over the last ten years, the Eritrean regime has imprisoned many of the lions of the Eritrean patriotic movement. Some, like Taha Mohammed Nur and Sunabera Demena, passed away, never having fully recovered from their inhumane prison treatments.