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Friday, July 30, 2021

Marsabit MCA handed over to anti-terror squad for questioning

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A member of the Marsabit county assembly who was wanted for claims of arms deal has surrendered to the police.

Police said Sololo MCA Halkano Konsa turned himself in has since been transferred from Marsabit to Nairobi where officers from the Anti-Terror Police Unit took over the case.

Konsa presented himself to the Marsabit DCI offices and was interrogated for hours on his alleged role of arming residents in the conflict-hit areas of Turbi and Sololo. Several people have in recent months been killed in the area and others displaced in inter-clan clashes.

The county legislator, however, denied any wrong doing. In Nairobi, he is to be questioned before possibly being charged with arming bandits at Turbi-Sololo border, among other counts.

Detectives from the Directorate of Criminal Investigations had launched a manhunt for Konsa after he went into hiding on Saturday.

This was after a team of officers on patrol recovered an AK-47 rifle with 10 bullets from a county government car. The MCA, who was said to be in a different vehicle, fled the scene.

Officials said an arrest warrant had earlier been issued against him after he went into hiding.

Police said the MCA has information on alleged terror cells operating in the vast county and should be considered “armed and dangerous”.

“Terror cells are emerging here, and we are going to deal with them because we have intelligence and we will arrest everybody promoting war-like activities in this area,” said Noah Mwavinda, the Eastern regional police commander.

Four people were arrested in an operation conducted by officers from the Border Patrol unit and an AK-47 rifle with 10 bullets recovered. Two of them, according to police, were later identified as Marsabit county government employees.

“BPU officers who were on targeted patrol following a tip-off from members of the local community, spotted a county government vehicle registration number 10CG016A suspected to be distributing supplies to bandits in the thickets of Funan Qumbi,” the DCI said.

The county government, in a statement, acknowledged the incident in which one of its vehicles attached to the Department of Water, Environment and Natural Resources had been impounded at Turbi police station.

County authorities said the vehicle was being used to ferry a driver and water technician on field assignment—to repair boreholes in Bori, Badanrero and Elle Borr areas on Friday.

“We’ve yet to obtain information on the reasons why the vehicle and our officers were detained. We are, however, in communication with the Kenya police officers based in Turbi and we are seeking updates and interventions from the county security team.”

Governor Mohammud Ali distanced his administration from the allegations, saying they too are demanding answers from the DCI on the real state of affairs.

Interior CS Fred Matiang’i said the government would begin a disarmament programme in the area and neighbouring counties, saying the fragility of the situation has been aggravated by toxic battles for supremacy by scheming politicians.

He also took issue with the partisan approach to the conflict by leaders who side with their communities. According to the CS, competition over control of power and resources has also been intensifying since 2013 when implementation of devolution began.

Matiang’i described the conflict as “a costly affair” that has led to avoidable loss of lives, displacement of local populations, malicious destruction of property, and disruption of economic activities.

“Plans are underway to operationalise the recommended police stations and posts in the vast county. The officers will also be provided with adequate modern equipment, including armoured vehicles, dog units, and even drones,” he said.

“The government also plans to delocalise police personnel born and working in the county.”

Besides, various agencies, led by the Communication Authority of Kenya (CAK), have begun monitoring social media and vernacular FM stations to monitor if there are inciteful messages that would call for action.

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