Ranchers deny role in frequent Lamu attacks

Lamu Woman Representative Marubu Muthoni at Parliament Buildings, Nairobi, November 2, 2022. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

Landowners have defended themselves against claims they are behind the bloody attacks targeting some communities in the region.

They took issue with Lamu County Woman Representative Monica Marubu's recent claims that they perpetuated the attacks that security agencies had linked to Al-Shabaab insurgents.

The owners of Witu Nyongoro, Amu, and Witu Livestock Cooperative Society limited ranches claimed the remarks were meant to incite local communities that have lived in the area peacefully and also drive a wedge between them and the government.

Led by Witu Livestock cooperative Society Limited chairman Mr Jare Eleman, the ranchers called on the government to take action against the Woman Rep.

Mr Elema also threatened court action against the politician claiming that she had caused them damage.

Speaking at Muungano grounds in Mpeketoni during an interdenominational prayer attended by President William Ruto, Ms Marubu had claimed that killings witnessed in parts of the county were by ranch owners and not Al Shabaab as widely reported.

She claimed the attackers were calling the victims by their names, and hence they were from around and not Al Shabaab,
But yesterday, Mr Elema claimed it was wrong for Ms Marubu to brand ranch owners' attackers challenging her to offer evidence to support the claims.

"We are not behind the frequent killings in Lamu county. The government has many investigating agencies and should unravel the truth rather than a politician making wild claims against us," he protested.

Elema said their ranch was given to them by the government, although part of it has been invaded by squatters, adding that they were resolving the matter using legal channels.

"We are contemplating moving to court over these accusations against us. If established we are not involved in criminal activities, then we will demand that action is taken against her," he said.

A retired chief, Mr Abdi Kofonde, challenged the woman representative to produce evidence linking them to attacks.

He claimed the woman leader wanted the ranches to be allocated to other people, although they had acquired the properties through legal means.

"This means she is a leader of just a few people, who she is defending, but we who have lived here for years have no right to our land," he said.

He asked the government to conduct investigations and take action against any ranch owner found to be behind the attacks.

Kofonde said whenever there are attacks, ranch owners are summoned to the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) for questioning, but no one has been arrested.

Nyongoro Ranch chairman Mr Athman Mohamed said the woman rep made the utterances without proof.

"Let Ms Marubu offer evidence to the DCI to aid investigations to unravel the truth. There are many ranches in the country, but none has been linked to terror attacks except those in Lamu County. We want the truth to come out," he said.

Mr Ali Hasshim of Amu ranch said since terrorism started, they have heard many challenges because they were treated as the suspects.