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Governor Roba: Why Al Shabaab are after my life

By Vincent Achuka | Published Sun, June 11th 2017 at 00:00, Updated June 10th 2017 at 23:37 GMT +3

Prior to the 2013 General Election, Mandera County was so insecure that no public baraza was held for three years.

Terrorists were ruling the town from 6pm to 5am every night. There were gunshots through the night, chiefs and taxi drivers were murdered but no one dared to speak about Al Shabaab.

The terror cells would cross from Somalia and steal four-wheel-drive vehicles as many times as they wanted. The military was here but nobody dared challenge the terrorists.

Immediately after the election, my first dilemma was the county commissioner telling me we could not hold the swearing in ceremony at the stadium. I said whatever would happen would happen.

Public functions had to happen in public areas.

Then I demanded from the security team that we find out how many guns we had with the Kenya Police Reservists (KPR). The other non-local askaris could not patrol because of fear so we requested the police to reorganise them.

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We hired six vehicles and they were used to secure the town for six months. After six months, the terror cells found out that there was no radio communication, then they attacked. I requested the police to set up a radio communication service for the KPR but that did not happen.

We set up one privately as a county government and gave radios to all officers so that in case of a fault in the cellphone service, they still provided backup for one another. For the first time in many years, three terrorists attacking a Kenya Power station were encountered by our KPR and two were killed. Later, another two were caught attempting to destroy our solar system and they were also killed. Then we started re-engaging the national Government, which gave us additional security units.

All this time, the safe haven that Al Shabaab was enjoying in Mandera was going down. The status quo was disrupted and this became a threat to the terror cells. Normally, you follow the discussions in Somalia and you realise the terrorists don’t like people talking about them. The attacks happen but people don’t talk about it.

The initial attacks on me were motivated by those efforts against the terrorists. Four IED attacks were meant to scare me but by the grace of Allah the timing was wrong.

Later, they burnt the land registry in the town to the ground then threw rocket propelled grenades at our office.

Eventually, they went a notch higher to a very targeted attack in which I lost two of my security officers and a paramount chief was injured. The immediate former chairman of Mandera County Council was also killed in that attack.

But in the latest incident something is not adding up. Individuals whose voices are known directly issued messages propagating for the killing of the governor on WhatsApp. I believe those are hired terror cells.

[Vincent Achuka]

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