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Taita Taveta Governor rebukes security team for continued stay of illegal herders

COUNTIES
By Renson Mnyamwezi | August 10th 2015
Taita Taveta County Assembly Speaker Maganga Meshack Maghanga (front) and Governor John Mruttu leave the county assembly chambers in Wundanyi town yesterday after the governor addressed MCAs during a special sitting. [PHOTO- RENSON MNYAMWEZI]

Taita Taveta County security committee has been accused of taking sides in the operation to flush out illegal herders.

Governor John Mruttu took issue with the committee yesterday, accusing it of failing to implement some provisions in the Livestock Animal Diseases Act 2012, which would help get rid of illegal grazers in the county.

“We need an explanation as to why the security agencies have not provided the security requested on August 3 by the county secretary while the same was provided to herders trekking the livestock back to Alia?” he said.

He added: “We also want to know why the Alia community was not involved in releasing the seized livestock back to Alia.”

He said failure by the security committee to provide security to the county government officers enforcing the court order of July 30 was ironical and had left many unanswered questions.

“We understand that the court order is still in force, and that no other decision including that of the security committee can vary the order,” Mr Mruttu said.

Speaking at his office after chairing the executive committee meeting, the governor said the security committee had declined to implement the court order issued directing the exodus of all illegal herders.

“The court order needed the requisite security support for it to be fully implemented, which was never given despite numerous follow-ups by the county administration,” complained Mruttu.

He said the community living around Alia had peacefully seized livestock grazed illegally within the community land and took them to the county commissioner’s office.

“The security committee made a decision to have the animals taken back to Alia without involving the community, which legally owns the land and had expressed their displeasure in having the livestock within Alia,” he said.

He said returning of the livestock was illegal as there was no livestock movement permit from the county government.

The meeting came as the security committee issued a two-day ultimatum to illegal herders to voluntarily vacate the county or face arrest.

COURT DIRECTIVE

And defending the committee against claims of refusing to implement the court order, County Commissioner Oningoi ole Sosio said the order was not addressed to them.

“The court order was not addressed to us.

“It was only addressed to the county government,” said Mr Sosio, who is the chairman of the security committee.

He, however, said the continued presence of livestock from outside was causing unnecessary tension in the region.

“We have given the herders from Kajiado, Narok and North Eastern region illegally grazing here two days to leave the region, failure to which stern action will be taken against them,” he warned.

In an interview yesterday, the administrator said the local community had registered with his office their displeasure of having the livestock in the region.

“We have given them up to today (yesterday) as their last day to continue grazing in the area. On expiring of the directive, they will have no other alternative but to vacate the region,” he said.

Sosio denied claims that some of the animals grazing in the region were his. He also denied allegations that he was protecting herders from his Maasai community.

“It is true that all Maasais have livestock. I also have livestock but the ones grazing in the region are not mine as claimed in some quarters,” he said.

He spoke as angry residents torched a house belonging to a Member of Parliament.

The MP’s house was among properties of unknown value destroyed as the operation to rid the county of illegal herders was intensified yesterday.

Mandera North MP Adan Noor and other herders lost property during the day-long operation after residents drove thousands of livestock out of Sarova Hills Sanctuary and people’s settlement.

Sosio said the MP’s property, which included his house and those of his herders, and a cattle shed were among those torched.

“We are still waiting for the MP to record a statement for action to be taken,” said the commissioner.

He said residents were incited to destroy private property and warned there would be prosecutions.

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