Waititu takes on Ngilu in battle for charcoal trade

Kitui governor Charity Ngilu

Kiambu Governor Ferdinand Waititu has gone to court seeking orders to compel his Kitui counterpart Charity Ngilu to rescind her decision to ban charcoal trading in her county.

Through a petition filed at the Milimani Law Courts in Nairobi yesterday, Mr Waititu also wants Ms Nguli (pictured) stopped from issuing what he termed inflammatory statements.

He also wants Ngilu forced to allow transportation of charcoal across Kitui County and is seeking compensation for traders affected by the ban.

“Ngilu is on record asking her people to deal with pastoralists and charcoal traders who have invaded her county. She must be held responsible and stopped forthwith from further inciting her people and causing more damage to property,” said Waititu.

Raging war

The case is likely to escalate the raging war between the two counties over charcoal trading, which has already seen two vehicles transporting charcoal set on fire in Kitui.

Youths in Kiambu retaliated by blocking the Nairobi-Nakuru highway and deflating vehicle tyres last week.

Waititu said he sued Ngilu to stop the bad blood between residents of the two counties and avoid further violence witnessed in the past two weeks over the ban.

The dispute began when Ngilu imposed a ban on charcoal burning in Kitui County. This was followed by a statement by the governor allegedly directing Kitui residents not to allow any charcoal to be transported from the county.

Waititu argued that due to Ngilu’s directive, a lorry belonging to a resident of Limuru in Kiambu County was burnt by youths in Kitui.

“She accused the driver of carrying charcoal illegally obtained from Kitui but the driver denied the allegations and stated he had bought the charcoal from Tana River County. He even showed them receipts but Ngilu refused to listen and ordered his arrested,” said Waititu.

Incited youths

He said after the driver and his loader were bundled into a Kitui County vehicle, Ngilu incited the youths and her county government officials to burn the lorry and the charcoal it was ferrying.

Waititu submitted that Ngilu’s stand on the charcoal trade has resulted in malicious damage to property and caused residents of Kiambu County losses and fear of using the roads in Kitui.

He argued there was no law prohibiting the charcoal trade, and that Ngilu should be held solely responsible for what happened.

“Nowhere does the Charcoal Management Act in Kitui say a vehicle carrying charcoal should be burnt. Her actions were malicious and reckless. She should be ordered to stop inciting the public against innocent traders,” said Waititu.

He termed it unfortunate that youths from Kiambu blocked the road and caused innocent road users suffering. He added that the youths were only reacting to threats experienced by their fellow residents engaged in charcoal trading.

Represented by lawyer John Wanjohi, Waititu asked the court to issue a declaration that Ngilu’s statements regarding the ban and the violent enforcement of her directives were a violation of the Constitution and the right of people to trade anywhere.

Innocent businessmen

“We also want the court to declare that the manner in which Kitui County is enforcing their Charcoal Management Act violates the rights of innocent businessmen and other road users who now have to endure illegal inspection by rowdy youths along the roads in Kitui,” said Mr Wanjohi.