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Governor Grilled Over Conflict between Nomads and Farmers.

The Directorate of Criminal Investigation (DCI) in Voi sub-county has summoned Taita-Taveta Governor Granton Samboja to record a statement to shed light over the prolonged conflict between local residents and illegal herders.

Samboja is expected at Voi Police Station on Monday, 8th July by 8.30 am.

In a statement from his communication department, the governor said as a law-abiding citizen, he would honor the summons even as he called for leaders to continue fostering peace and harmony in the region.

“This is to inform the general public that H.E the governor being a law-abiding citizen will honor the summons and appear before the DCI on Monday,” reads part of the statement.

The governor becomes the third high-profile leader to be summoned by DCI over the prolonged row over grazing pitting residents against camel herders.

On Thursday last week, a group of Members of County Assembly (MCAs) marched to Voi Police Station after several received summons by DCI officials to record statement over claims of incitement.

Christopher Mwambingu, an ODM nominated MCA and Godwin Kilele representing Sagalla Ward were required to shed light on remarks they made at the height of the conflict that was triggered after a farmer was stabbed to death by an illegal camel herder. The residents retaliated by killing over 20 camels.

In their defense, the MCAs alleged they were being targeted for fighting for the rights of locals. Mr. Mwambingu said he would not be intimidated and would continue championing the rights of the farmers in the region.

“There is nothing wrong we have done. All these are plans to scare us but they will not work,” he said.

There are reports that summons for other political leaders including local Members of Parliament from the county are in the offing.

The County Commissioner Rhoda Onyancha said that the government was not going to tolerate any utterances or conduct by leaders that would jeopardize the security of the region.

Ms. Onyancha stated that all leaders had a duty to foster and maintain peace as she warned of dealing firmly with political leaders who were inciting residents into lawlessness.

“Leaders must urge and encourage people to live in peace. Statements that cause incitement will not be tolerated from anyone,” she warned.

There are concerns that local political leaders were exploiting the hostility between herders and farmers to stoke more animosity for political mileage. There are also claims that some politicians were openly urging residents to flush out the herders, a situation authorities fear is likely to spark violence.

With uneasy calm returning to the region, the government has held several meetings with the herders and ranch owners to weed out herders without proper documents. In addition, the county commissioner and the security team has directed ranchers to provide all lease agreements entered to with herders to check for their legitimacy.

The County Commissioner said the government was committed to ending the grazing conflict once and for all. “We don’t want to have a repeat of what happened here ever again,” she said.

By Wagema Mwangi

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