Cohesion team on the spot over Kitui rapes and killings

NCIC Chairman Samuel Kobia. [Denis Kibuchi, Standard]

Parliament has put to task the National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) to explain what it has done to resolve the conflict between Kitui and Tana River communities that has led to the loss of lives and property.

The Senate National Cohesion and Integration Committee accused NCIC of holding meetings in Nairobi instead of visiting the affected areas.

Kitui Senator Enock Wambua said at least 48 people have been killed while women and girls have been raped, and accused NCIC of doing little to end the conflict.

“Let me make it very clear that members of the Akamba and Somali communities do not have ethnic disputes between them. They coexist peacefully in Kitui and Garissa towns where they do business. What we have here is a case of invaders with camels forcefully entering farms owned by other people,” he said.

He accused the commission of not involving leaders in Kitui and Tana River counties to resolve the conflict, saying the commissioners only hold meetings in city hotels.

Nominated Senator Beth Syengo claimed that 14 women were raped during the latest invasion. But NCIC Chairperson Samuel Kobia, commissioners Phillip Okundi and Dorcas Kedogo, and CEO Skitter Ocharo said they had engaged peace monitors in the 47 counties to alert its headquarters in Nairobi whenever there is conflict. 

“Research has shown that the resource-based conflict is historical and dates back to the pre-colonial period, but aggravated during drought. The recent conflict is due to the infiltration of the Kitui residents’ farms by the Somali herders from Garissa and Tana River,” said Dr Kobia.

He told the committee that elders from Somali and Kamba communities met to call for peaceful coexistence, but some politicians issued inflammatory statements exacerbating the conflict.

“Kitui and Garissa governors, as well as Regional Commissioners for Eastern and North Eastern, met, peace committees have been set up and crime reports made to authorities,” he said.

The committee asked the commission to put in place measures to identify triggers of conflict and tackle them before the situation escalates.