Why Kisii violence just won’t go away

Police in Kisii County have banned demonstrations by two different groups scheduled for Friday in Kisii Town.

The Kisii Branch of the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) party and Gusii Governance Watch (GGW) – had both notified the police of their intention to hold street demonstrations within the town that would last for two weeks and three weeks, respectively.

The orange party had indicated that the demonstrations were to protest an alleged mistreatment and sabotage of governor Simba Arati by the local police and some senior officers of the national government and Kenya Kwanza politicians.

ODM in its letter to the Officer Commanding Nyanchwa Police Station said that the demonstration will start on April 19, 2024 and last for two weeks.

On the other hand, the GGW, said the demonstrations were to protest over what they ended up as an “unprofessional conduct of the Kisii County Governor”.

Speaking to the press on Thursday, Kisii County Police Commander Charles Kases said police had decided to disallow both protests for security reasons.

“According to Section 5 Sub-section 4 of the Public Order Act, two meetings cannot take place at the same time at the same place. Both demos stand canceled from now and any demo that will take place will be treated as illegal,” declared Mr Kases.

The county police boss noted that GGW was the first to notify the police and had their request approved and that the ODM was denied permission based on the Public Order Act.

Nonetheless, he explained that the police had reviewed both applications and decided to cancel the first application as well – “so that protesters cannot harm each other.”

Interior CS Kithure Kindiki accompanied by PS Salome Beacco

CS Kindiki warns politicians in Kisii against inciting violence

Nonetheless, police beefed up security in Kisii town to deal with anyone who disobeyed the directive.

“As the Kisii County ODM officials and members, we intend to hold peaceful demonstrations against the conduct and manner in which the Kisii County Governor is being handled by CCIO, County Commissioner and other officials,” the notice signed by branch Secretary Seth Okindo reads.

Mr Okindo had asked for police cooperation.

The correspondence was officially received at Nyanchwa Police Station on Tuesday April 16, 2023.

At a press conference Wednesday morning, ODM delegates drawn from the nine constituencies of Kisii County said that residents have been rattled by the actions of the national government against their governor.

Kisii County ODM Chairman Kerosi Ondieki stated that the party will no longer condone the alleged intimidation against their governor.

“Now that he (Mr Arati) has not committed any offense which we know of, we demand answers. Why are the county police commander, county commissioner and chief criminal investigations officer and other officials here and in Nairobi interested in governor Arati? Have I killed anyone?” paused Mr Ondieki.

To stop the alleged intimidation, Mr Ondieki asked residents to pour out onto the streets beginning Friday to demand respect for their governor.

“To the people of Kisii County, are you not seeing what is happening? We are calling on you that this ODM government (in Kisii) must be respected. From Friday, you don’t have to come to Kisii town, just come out and let us ask the government of Kenya what Simba (Arati) has done,” he stated.

Kisii County Police Commander Charles Kases

Kisii County Police Commander Charles Kases addresses journalists outside his office on Thursday April 18, 2024.

Photo credit: Ruth Mbula | Nation Media Group

The branch office called on Mr Arati to feel free to work within his area of ​​jurisdiction without any fear for they are ready and willing to protect him as he serves.

Mr Ondieki asked President William Ruto to ensure that governor Arati is safe to allow him to deliver on his manifesto.

“We have agreed that we will not allow Mr Arati to be intimidated, or harassed. We ask the national government to give Mr Arati a chance to serve the people of Kisii,” said Youth Leader Mr Denis Mosoti.

Mr Mosoti called on the Interior Cabinet Secretary Prof Kithure Kindiki to restore security in Kisii County.

“As ODM we are not happy and will be here to ensure that Mr Arati is respected. The governor is being treated beastly. “We will start our demos to demand that the CCIO, county police commander and the county commissioner must go,” he said.

On the other hand, the GGW wants the governor to honor alleged summons from investigating agencies and to subject himself to court proceedings and abide by the resulting rulings.

“We intend to conduct peaceful demonstrations against the unprofessional conduct of the Kisii County Governor, with regard to the ongoing investigations facing him for criminal activities, academic credentials forgery and mishandling county affairs,” reads a letter signed for the Gusii Governance Watch chairman Peter Jim Momanyi.

The letter was received (stamped) by the OCS of the Kisii Central Police Station on April 15, 2024, and a note beside it showing “permission granted”.

The same letter was rubber stamped at “Nyanchwa Police Station” on April 17, 2024, with a note beside it saying “approved as requested”.

In the meantime Boda-Boda officials on Wednesday decried alleged police harassment of 14 of its members.

Their feelings came a week after the Kisii County Criminal Investigations Officer Cathrine Njue sought a court order to search homes of the 14 on grounds that they are keeping weapons that they often use to cause a breach of peace in the county.

Led by Kisii County Boda-Boda chairman Jared Onchari, the leaders said that they are willing to escort their accused members to record statements with the police.

“I am asking the CCIO that we are respectful people. If truly they have guns then let them tell us then I will bring my 1,080 Boda-Boda leaders to escort them to the police,” argued Mr Onchari.

Mr Onchari maintained that the sector is not confronting anyone and is cooperating with all elected leaders in the country.

The Nyanza Boda-Boda chairman Japhet Mosoti, who is one of the 14 accused, called on Boda-Boda riders to accompany him on Thursday to the CCIO to tell her to proceed and search his home.

He has maintained that he is innocent and law abiding and that there is no weapon at his home.

“I ask my Boda-Boda people to accompany me tomorrow to the CCIO to tell her that if they are ready to search my house then I am also ready because I don’t have a gun in my house,” said Mr Mosoti.

He indicated that he will proceed to Sue Ms Njue should she fail to find the incriminating exhibit at his home.

On Monday, Mr Arati accompanied by his lawyers James Orengo, Otiende Amollo and Ndegwa Njiru recorded a complaint against the Kisii County DCI officer at the DCI headquarters over a leaked audio clip.

The audio clip made rounds on social media last Sunday, with a voice suspected to be that of a senior security officer revealing an alleged plot to plant weapons in Mr Arati’s home, frame and arrest him with the weapons as exhibited.

A section of Kisii County Assembly MCAs have rallied behind Mr Arati, demanding that he be accorded maximum security as required by law and “action taken against the perpetrators of the alleged illegal plans and threats to his life”.

This followed a motion of “urgent county importance” that was tabled for discussion by house majority leader Henry Moracha.

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