Boundary dispute tears Wajir clans apart

By Boniface Ongeri

Relationships between the Maqabul and Auliyan clans of Wajir South and Lagdera constituencies have been strained for sometime now. The cause of the conflict is a row over a group of settlements near the two clans’ shared border.

On August 8, armed men suspected to be from Lagdera are said to have raided Aqaalaar at dawn killing one person and critically injuring eight others from the Maqabul clan.

Reports indicate the two clans are arming themselves for revenge attacks.

The settlements creating the row – Fadweyn, Sabena and Aqaalaar – lie on a boundary stretching about 220km according to a Survey of Kenya map.

To a visitor, the settlements are remote, dusty, and uninviting.

But for the constituents, the seasonal Ewaso Nyiro River that technically demarcates the two constituencies offers a strategic watering source for the pastoralists and their livestock.

More recently the stakes were raised after a Government survey established that the area is conducive to massive food production because of its fertile soil, available underground water and possibility of harvesting Ewaso Nyiro water for irrigation.

It is not the first time the two constituencies have been locked in a dispute over the villages, which are administered by Wajir County but now claimed by Lagdera constituency.

Shouting matches

In 2006, the then North Eastern PC Kiritu Wamae visited the area to resolve the dispute, but the meeting degenerated into shouting matches and it ended in a stalemate.

Last year, Wajir South constituents complained of new settlements in Aqaalaar by the Lagdera constituents.

At the same time residents of Wajir South planned to sink a borehole at Fini and de-silt the Abakore dam but Lagdera constituents violently resisted the project claiming that the area is in their constituency.

Also, the Wajir South constituents resisted the sinking of Aqaalaar borehole by the Lagdera constituents.

In the last financial year, Wajir South was allocated Sh300 million for an irrigation scheme along the Ewaso Nyiro River.

However, the money was returned to the Treasury after the Lagdera constituents claimed the area earmarked for irrigation was theirs.

The Government suspended the projects until the boundary dispute is resolved.

Acting Internal Security minister Yussuf Haji called a leaders’ meeting from the two constituencies to look for solutions.

Appeal for calm

After the meeting, the leaders resolved to move to the ground united and with speed to appeal for calm.

However, as the leaders were travelling to the disputed area over the weekend, they disagreed on their message to the locals.
While Wajir South leaders wanted the constituents told that the boundary lay squarely in Wajir South as per a Provincial Security Committee meeting, the Lagdera constituency leaders requested time for wider consultations with other leaders in Garissa County before they could give the declaration to the constituents.

Wajir South MP Mohammud Sirat said during the meeting in Nairobi that the leaders had agreed to go to the ground to ask the constituents to observe the 1963 boundary survey that placed the settlements under Wajir County administration.

Sirat was accompanied by MP Mohammed Affey, former MP Abdirahaman Ali and new aspirants Abdullahi Sheikh Diriye and Nur Adan Awil.

“As per the Kenya subsidiary legislations of 1963 No 39 and 40, the boundary was curved out of the original Garissa and Wajir districts and we are not aware of the boundary review since then,” Sirat said.

He said the Auliyan are allowed to graze as brothers in the larger Ogaden clan.

However, Lagdera constituency leaders led by Deputy Speaker and area MP Farah Maalim said they were confident the issue would be resolved.

“What we are witnessing is a dispute between family members. It is a big problem but we are going to resolve it. We are intermarried and have lived together for long for a border to disrupt that harmony,” he said.

Maalim was with by former MPs Mohammed Shidiye and Abdullahi.

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Inter-clan clashesNorth Eastern Kenyaconflictpeace