Police arrest two MPs over ongoing Marsabit clashes

Anthony Mwangi and Michael Kwena @People

Two legislators from Marsabit county were yesterday arrested and detained in police custody over ongoing ethnic clashes, which have claimed 14 lives.

Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) detectives arrested Saku MP Dido Rasso and his North Horr counterpart Chachu Nganya from Marsabit town and were driven to Nairobi where they were to be held overnight ahead of their arraignment for inciting violence.

Tension is high in Marsabit following the arrests of the duo, with most shops in the town remaining closed yesterday.

The arrest came as anxiety rose in Marsabit with at least 16 schools being closed. The closure affected 81 Kenya Certificate of Secondary School Education (KCSE) exam candidates.

County Director for Education Milton Nzioka said 13 primary and three secondary schools had been closed. 

He said  394 KCPE exam candidates could also face serious  challenges if peace is not restored in the region this week. Nzioka said candidates from Sasura Girls Secondary School are being hosted at Cavarella Girls School. 

The affected schools include  Shur, Manyatta Jillo, Gar Qassa, Goro Rukessa, Mwangaza, Qubi Qallo, Lagdima, Jaldesa, Qubi Bagassa, Hekima, Boruharro, Qachacha, Dirib Gombo, Gufu Ali and Badassa primary schools. Sasura Girls, Manyatta Jillo and Badassa Secondary schools have also been closed. 

The two were arrested in their houses in Majengo and Kalacha areas of Marsabit county respectively at wee hours.

They could remain in police custody for a longer time after reports emerged that detectives are likely to move to court this morning to request for more time to undertake the investigations.

Sources also indicated that police will oppose any push by the two legislators to be released on bail. The MPs, however, are said to have denied the claims of funding and perpetuating the clashes.

A senior DCI sleuth divulged that the lawmakers will request the court to allow them hold the two for up to two weeks, to give them time to conduct more investigations on Marsabit clashes. Sources indicate the two will be charged with incitement to violence and promotion of war-like activities.

“We feel they are a danger to the coming national examinations and other activities and should remain in custody for the sake of peace and safety in the area,” an officer privy to the probe said

Separately, MPs from Tana River, Isiolo and Marsabit counties said the arrest of their colleagues undermines the ongoing peace initiative.

The MPs who included Ali Wario (Bura), Said Hiribae (Galole), Hassan Hulufo (Isiolo North), Wario Guyo (Garsen), Qalicha Wario (Moyale), Rehema Jaldesa (Isiolo Women’s Rep) and Nominated Senator Dr Naomi Waqo called for the immediate release of the two leaders.

“We condemn the arrest, as there is an ongoing peace process. Why didn’t the government arrest Ganya and Rasso last week, why now?” Wario, the caucus chairperson posed.

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