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Senate inquiry into murder of Stutchbury to take more time

NATIONAL
By Grace Ng'ang'a | October 15th 2021

Environmentalists hold booklets with the image of Joannah Stutchbury at Karura Forest in September. Stutchbury was shot dead outside her home in Kiambu last July. [Daniel Chege, Standard]

The Senate’s probe into the killing of environmentalist Joannah Stutchbury will drag for another two weeks. This is after Environment Cabinet Secretary Keriako Tobiko and Kiambu Governor James Nyoro requested for more time to present the information sought.

The two leaders were grilled by the committee on National Security, Defence and Foreign Relations chaired by Kisumu Senator Fred Outa, as the killing took place outside the environmentalist’s home in Kiambu County.

More than 13 conservationists, under the umbrella of Conversation of Kenya Alliance, petitioned the House to probe the murder.

“The petitioners pray that the Senate investigates the circumstances leading to the alleged murder of Joannah Stutchbury and other environmentalists and conservationists in the country,” the petition reads.

Stutchbury was passionate about environmental conversation of among others, Kiambu Forest reserve.

“I am not able now to go into the full length of my submission because I am still expecting the complete dossier. I, therefore, request a little more time to get to the bottom of this as the CID continue with further investigation,” Mr Tobiko said.

Dr Nyoro sought more time to present information. He said he preferred to appear before the committee with satisfactory findings on “the grabbing evidence, the individuals and entities involved.”

The governor said all public assets grabbed by greedy individuals would be returned.

Joannah Stutchbury's single-handed show-down with private developers in Kiambu forest. [Courtesy]

Bungoma Senator Moses Wetang’ula asked the CS to ensure the forest was protected.

“You should ensure total closure of the grabbed area, fence the forest or even deploy Kenya Forest Service (KFS) to conserve and preserve the forest as investigation continues,” he said.

The conservationists want the Senate to compel the Ministry of Environment and KFS to revoke grabbed parcels of the Kiambu Forest Reserve.

They also want appropriate recommendations for protection of environmentalists and conservationists.

“We demand action from security forces to uncover the killers of Joannah and bring them to justice because it is only when we have the legal system working properly that environment defenders will feel confident of doing what they do,” reads the petition.

The petitioners asked the senators to review existing laws and policies to enhance protection of forests and wildlife migratory corridors from land grabbers.

They noted that crimes against the environment were the fourth largest criminal enterprise globally.

“Environmental crime rank higher than the sales of illegal firearms, in particular, the rate at which female environmentalists and conservationists are harassed, threatened and intimidated,” the petitioners said.

Stutchbury was shot dead outside her home last July 16.

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