Three North Rift leaders were yesterday questioned in connection with Friday’s attack on ODM leader Raila Odinga in Soy, Uasin Gishu, in an incident that has shone a spotlight on election-related violence.
During the incident, a helicopter carrying the Azimio la Umoja-One Kenya presidential hopeful was pelted with stones, compelling the pilot to abort take-off.
MPs Caleb Kositany (Soy), Oscar Sudi (Kapseret) and the Speaker of the Uasin Gishu County Assembly, Mr David Kiplagat, presented themselves at the Rift Valley Regional Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) offices to shed light on how the attack was planned and coordinated.
At 5:11pm, the three, together with their allies, told journalists that their phones had been confiscated to aid in the investigations.
“We have given all the information they required from us. They have also confiscated our mobile phones for forensic analysis. We are very comfortable with that,” said Mr Kositany.
Even as the politicians were being questioned, President Uhuru Kenyatta condemned incidents of violence in political rallies.
He said political competition should not be taken as enmity and a basis for triggering violence since every aspirant has a right to campaign in any part of the country.
Mr Odinga had attended the burial of businessman Jackson Kibor when his helicopter was pelted with stones by rowdy youths. One of his vehicles was also stoned.
The President urged leaders to be tolerant and let competitors sell their agenda to every corner of the nation peacefully. He also warned young people against being used to disrupt peace ahead of the next election.
Already, 17 have been arrested in connection with the Friday incident.
Yesterday, Mr Kositany blamed the Friday attack on a few politicians whom he accused of ferrying youths to disrupt public gatherings.
“Politicians should desist from ferrying drunk youth to funerals and gatherings to cheer them. Let us not ferry people who will cause destruction,” he said.
On whether they had disclosed to detectives the details on the people behind the attack, Mr Sudi said the police already had enough evidence to trace the suspects. “If there was anything that was planned, it is up to them to find them,” he said.
Mr Kiplagat disputed claims that the attack was pre-planned, saying Mr Odinga arrived for the funeral when most leaders had already left.
“Nobody even knew Raila was coming. There were many people and no leader should be blamed for the incident. We, however, tender our apologies,” said Mr Kiplagat.
The UDA and Kenya Kwanza presidential hopeful, Deputy President William Ruto, on Saturday also apologised over the incident and asked police to take action against those responsible. Yesterday, Rift Valley Regional Criminal Investigations Officer (RCIO) Mwenda Meme said his officer had confiscated the mobile phones of the three politicians.
“This is a sensitive matter. I will not divulge more details to avoid jeopardising our investigations,” he said.
Earlier in Uasin Gishu County, Mr Sudi and Mr Kositany exonerated themselves from allegations that they had sponsored the Friday incident.
Mr Sudi claimed he had on several occasions held meetings to promote peace in the region and wondered how and why his name would be listed among promoters of violence.
“Many things have been said, but I know that sponsoring violence is not a thing that can even cross my mind,” said the Kapseret MP.
The MPs accused police of double standards for allegedly downplaying similar instances that have happened during rallies by Dr Ruto’s allies in various parts of the country. They said police were quick to summon and arrest the DP’s allies over presumed acts of violence.
“There is deliberate bias in the security system in this country, and we wonder when this will end. When the other political divide is at fault, we have never seen any of them summoned,” said Mr Sudi.
Mr Kositany faulted Suna East MP Junet Mohamed for linking him to the incident.
“Junet’s implications came barely ten minutes after the said incident, even before I was aware of what was going on,” he said.
He also questioned why Mr Odinga was yet to be summoned over remarks he made in North Eastern.
Bishop Dominic Kimengich of the Catholic Diocese of Eldoret and Sheikh Abubakar Bini, chairman of the North Rift Council of Imams and Preachers of Islam, described the attack was unfortunate.
“Our leaders should learn from the past instead of chest thumping,” he said.
Sheikh Bini urged the government to come up with tangible solutions to avert future conflicts.
“We want a united nation, politics come and go, but we remain as Kenyans. I humbly want to appeal to the people of this nation to avoid politicians whose agenda is to misuse youths and later abandon them,” he said.
Uasin Gishu Governor Jackson Mandago also condemned the attack. “As the governor, I want to make it very clear, just like I had stated earlier, I don’t entertain violence,” he said.
[Kennedy Gachuhi, Lynn Kolongei, Peter Odhiambo and Jane Mugambi]