Skewed resource allocation ‘to blame for killings in Marsabit’ - Beaking Kenya News

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Saturday, 13 February 2021

Skewed resource allocation ‘to blame for killings in Marsabit’

 

One chilly and misty morning last December, National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) called for a meeting with 12 members of a committee from Borana and Gabbra communities to kick start reconciliation in the decades-old Marsabit conflict.

In attendance were NCIC Commissioner Danvas Makori, the NCIC secretariat and six members drawn from Borana and Gabbra communities. Marsabit County Commissioner Paul Rotich would join later in the day.

Marsabit Governor Mohamed Mohamud

Treasury Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yatani (right) and Marsabit Governor Mohamed Mohamud hold a joint press conference after a peace meeting at Serena hotel Sweet Waters Camp in Laikipia on September 12, 2020.

File | Nation Media Group

But the meeting broke-up prematurely when Gabbra community representatives walked out and told NCIC that they would resolve their issues in a different forum without delving into details.

When the county commissioner arrived, he only found NCIC leadership and the representatives from Borana Community. NCIC left for Nairobi, and that was the last engagement the committee had.

State resorts to forceful disarmament restore peace in Marsabit

The committee had been set-up after NCIC met Treasury Secretary Ambassador Ukur Yatani and Marsabit Governor Mohamud Ali in Laikipia, and separately inter-faith groups in Marsabit.

The Borana Council of Elders and the representative in the peace committee had earlier written to NCIC to protest the creation of two sub-counties in North Horr Constituency while the other three constituencies were left out.

Skewed allocations

“The creations of the units come in the backdrop of other skewed allocations of national resources where development projects worth billions of shilling have been diverted to the same area,” they stated in their claim.

They demanded NCIC and the government to prevail on the CS Treasury in particular to ensure just and equitable allocation of development projects in the region. To them, the skewed resource allocation was part of the issues fuelling the conflict.

Activist Okiya Omtatah has separately filed a suit in court accusing Mr Yatani of allocating billions on projects in his backyard without any public participation to benefit him politically. The matter is in court.

Further, two new sub-counties were created in North Horr Constituency, where the minister comes from, while Moyale, Laisamis and Saku were left out. Mr Yatani attended a function to officiate the two sub-counties.

The killings, meanwhile never stopped, with members of both communities being casualties, leaving behind orphans, widows, and bitter and hopeless members of the society.

The local security is accused of abetting the killings.

Last week, the County Government of Marsabit vehicle was intercepted by a Border Patrol Unit at Elle Borr and in it they found an old rusty gun with ten bullets.

Within hours, the story had spread that the vehicle carrying several guns and a cache of ammunition had been impounded.

Pastrolist communities in Marsabit county hold peace meeting

But the locals and county leaders we spoke to have a different version of the story. The driver and his passenger, a borehole operator, were on a mission to repair boreholes in Elle Bor region of Sololo sub-county.

How the two individuals, one with a gun, ended up in the vehicle is not known since the police have not formally allowed their relatives to contact them.

There are a lot of guns in civilian hands in Marsabit and disarmament initiatives over the years have failed to tame it. It is suspected the gun holder may have been offered lift by the county driver.

Mischief

But the Borana leaders, elders and professionals read mischief in the arrest and what they term one sided operations from security forces. They cite hundreds of raids by heavily armed militia believed to be from the neighbouring community of Gabbra. The Gabbra too blame the Borana for the prevailing insecurity.

Some time back, about 500 camels were taken from Gas location by government security agencies and another herd of 1,000 from the Borana side were also taken. The animals are  yet to be returned.

Both sides have on a number of occasions attacked the police.  Last year, the police were repulsed by a strong Gabbra Militia in Horonder by heavy artillery.

Just a day before the man with the gun, who police say is from Borana community was arrested and airlifted to Nairobi.

On February 4, 2021, the Borana village in the same area was raided by heavily armed militia who injured three herders and drove away over 1,300 goats. No arrests have been made.

The lack of government security is seen as a reason behind herders from both sides’ motivation to arm and protect themselves.

Gabra elders

Mohamed Sora, 70, with other members of the Gabra community at a peace meeting at Elu village in Moyale on February 01,2014.



File | Nation Media Group

Marsabit Governor Mohamud Ali says one of his main visions is to leave behind a legacy of peace. He, however, regrets his efforts are being derailed.

The county government has built police houses in Elle Bor, Elle Dimtu and Bandan Rerro in Sololo Sub County but the national police service is yet to deploy the police to these camps despite requests having been made.

Bishop Kiara, the chairman of the peace committee in Marsabit says the Marsabit County government has been supporting peace initiatives. He, however, regrets that the conflicting parties are not so keen on peace.

“What we have seen in the recent past is retrogression after the concerned parties walked out of the peace talks we jointly had with the National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC). Unfortunately, this was the third walkout, we feel disheartened even as we prepare to give it another shot. We are appealing to leaders, especially the political class, to rein in their followers to make this happen,” Bishop Kihara said.

The Borana Council of elders, in a memorandum to the NCIC obtained by the Saturday Nation, lists chronology of attacks and question where thousands of animals have been stolen and more than 100 Borana herders killed but no single arrest has been made.

Original inhabitants.

While the conflict between Borana and Gabbra has been ongoing for some time now, part of its genesis is traced to a conflict in 2015 when plans to relocate Marsabit Airstrip to the Horonder area were initiated.

It saw a number of residents of North Horr Constituency settled there to the protestation of original inhabitants. The move elicited opposition from Saku Member of Parliament Dido Ali Raso.

The Saku MP, according to correspondence to NCIC, also lodged the complaint with then Interior CS Joseph Nkaissery. And after intervention by the national government, it was agreed that the new settlers return to North Horr Constituency.

They explained that they had moved into the area in search of pasture and water considering that it was raining in Saku and had no plans on staying there indefinitely.

The Borana Council of Elders term the conflict as ‘supremacy as to who are the rulers, who are the wealthy and those with supposedly influence on the government policy and actions on Marsabit’

The elders, leaders and professionals blame Mr Yatani, who is erstwhile ‘political enemy’ of current Marsabit Governor Mohamud Ali, of using his influence indirectly to destabilise the county. CS Yatani has in the past denied having anything to do with the conflict.

Mr Rasso says the presence of two centres of power, one revolving around Mr Yattani and the other around the governor was responsible for the conflict. The CS is believed to be eyeing the governor’s seat next year.

“We have no problem with the goodies he brings to his political base, we are so much concerned by deliberate effort to destabilise the county by making it ungovernable,” says Mr Rasso.

According to Hon Rasso, all the fighting is happening in areas that traditionally and even currently are occupied by the Borana community.

Marsabit herders

Herders attend a peace meeting in Marsabit in 2016.

File | Nation Media Group

“This militia will come, kill, maim and drive the animals away. We don’t blame the entire tribe but what the government is doing about the financiers? They are all coming from North Horr. What more evidence are government agencies waiting to establish that this is an expansionist strategy?” says Mr Rasso.

Mr Yatani has a firm grip of his Gabbra community, and while the leaders from Borana and Rendile community called a press conference in Nairobi two weeks ago where they sought to directly implicate the minister, he has never formally come out to defend himself. Although in the past he told this writer that he was doing everything in his power to foster peaceful co-existence in Marsabit.

In a counter move, professionals and elders from Gabbra community would also organise a counter press conference a day after to refute the claims, instead accusing the Borana leaders for harbouring Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) which they charged was destabilising the region.

OLF is a rebel group that was engaged in guerrilla war with the Ethiopian government but were formally recognised as legal entities when Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed came to power. They today have offices in Addis Ababa.

The Kenya Government has never admitted the presence of OLF in Kenya.

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