NCIC cautions on major threat of violence ahead of August election

National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) chairman Dr Samuel Kobia and Commissioner Eng Philip Okundi during a media briefing on Inauguration of the State of Peace and Political Decency in the run-up to the general election. [ Jenipher Wachie, Standard]

The National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) has listed major threats facing this year’s elections and cautioned politicians and members of the public to refrain from divisive activities.

The Commission further identified 23 counties as possible conflict hotspots during this year’s polls.

“We must stay alert and vigilant in these times and you must allow us to inform you of various situations and places that have tension or violence so that together, we may ensure peace prevails,” said NCIC Chairman, Rev. Dr. Samuel Kobia.

In addition, Kobia revealed that they are investigating some 49 cases of people who have breached various peace and integration codes.

Some of the counties identified as hotspots include Kisumu, Uasin Gishu, Nakuru, Mombasa, Nairobi, Migori, Kericho, Isiolo, Lamu, Bungoma, Kakamega, and Vihiga.

Others are Trans Nzoia, Marsabit, Kiambu, Nyamira, Homa Bay, Nandi, Bomet, Murang’a, Kirinyaga, Garissa, and Siaya.

Kobia said some of the factors that may lead to elections violence in the counties have also been mapped out and are being monitored.

He noted that these counties have a history of elections-related violence, have criminal gangs or are high security threats that must be monitored.

NCIC, however, congratulated the governors of Uasin Gishu and Nakuru for their efforts in reducing the risk of election violence in the two counties. The two counties have in the past gained notoriety as being hotspots for tension during polls.

Kobia, however, identified a raft of issues that he said might brew violence during the upcoming elections.

In his statement, Kobia cited increased inflammatory attacks and hate speech by prominent political leaders, ethnic balkanization and zoning of the country, misuse of social media platforms and increased level of incitement on ethnic lines.

The Commission raised particular concern on the increase of hate speech and ethnic incitement online, noting that since January 2022, hate speech on social media platforms has gone up 22 per cent.

In his statement, Kobia said action is being taken against persons stoking violence, saying that a number of cases are under investigation.

NCIC listed 49 new cases related to hate speech on social media that are currently under investigation. 

Some 22 cases are currently at the Communication Authority; two are from the Cybercrime Unit while 25 others are awaiting statement recording and evidence collection.

One other file has been forwarded to the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions for onward action and 10 cases are currently pending before various courts countrywide.