NAIROBI—The security apparatus in northern Kenya, particularly in Mandera County deliberately ignore intelligence provided by the locals and later blame communities for habouring militants.
In a separate statements, the County leaders stated that the security teams “sit on” actionable leads that could avert sporadic attacks launched in the area.
The issue came to light after Mandera Governor Ali Roba claimed that Al Shabab was controlling section of the County and that “80% of the major roads were impassable” due to the threat posed by the militants.
Roba who is also chairman of the Frontier Counties Development Council(FCDC) said he has been forced to go public about the deteriorating security situation in North Eastern Kenya and particularly Mandera County because people are now living in fear after a return of Al Shabaab militants who he said are operating freely in some parts of the county.
He said the group is getting bolder and more aggressive by the day and called for the review of the security programme and strategies to enhance fight against terrorism.
In response, the Northeastern Regional Commissioner Musyoki Ndalana denied the claims of Shabab takeover of the region, particularly Mandera County. He similarly castigated the County chief for choosing to raise the matter through the media. He added that the statement by the Governor threatens the sensitive and delicate nature of the operations.
Ndalana also denied the claim of ignoring intelligence provided by the locals.
The Pricipal Secretary of the interior ministry Karanja Kibicho tweeted the letter by Ndalana, stating that: “We must reject the notion that the war against terrorism is the government’s. The people and leaders of Mandera County and the larger North Eastern Region must shoulder individual and collective responsibilities and cooperate with our security teams to stamp out Al-Shabaab.”
“When terrorists move >200kms inside the county, Govt cannot feign ignorance. It’s a failure of the system. Period!”
Last week, Governor Roba said though President Uhuru Kenyatta has given his support to county in terms of personnel and weapons to fight the menace, the onus is upon the security managers to put the security resources to optimal and effective use which has not been the case.
“Sadly, the security personnel could not even protect themselves forget about protecting the public. We cannot accept to have continuous generational failures of our population,” he said.
According to the county boss, a serious security crisis is unfolding within Mandera County caused by undeterred movements of ter- ror cells within the county, a situation which has been developing over the last three months but has reached unprecedented levels now.
“The terrorists are collecting livestock by force from helpless pastoralists in the name of Zakat (obligatory charity). This requires a radical approach to manage the trend otherwise we will soon be under terror rule,” he said.
Roba said currently Al Shabbab is operating in more than 60 per cent of Mandera and they boldly record videos of their actions.
“They roam freely and the public has kept on reporting these movements (actionable intelligence) but unfortunately the situation has kept on growing from bad
to worse,” he said.
He further disclosed that highways in Mandera are now controlled by the group that harasses travellers and target civil servants on the roads adding the government has not lived up to its obligation to protect Northern Kenya from Al Shabab and residents may be forced to take up measures to protect themselves.
“If our public does not stand up and take on Al Shabbab with everything they have got in order to get rid of the terror group despite the risks, we are doomed to produce hundreds of thousands of youth every year failing to get access to education and joining the idling lot in our population,” he said.
The governor said there is an urgent need for a radical review and redesign of the security program as it relates to fighting terror because evidently, it is failing miserably.
The militia group recently attacked an ambulance evacuating an expectant mother to the hospital, killed her husband and injured the driver and a nurse as the mother escaped to a nearby bush. They later torched the ambulance owned by the County Government.
In a brutal incident, a vocal assistant chief against the group was abducted on December 18 and beheaded in the cruelest manner in Wajir County along the border with Mandera before his head was thrown in the bush.
A police post was attacked and a new building flattened by explosives and mobile phone transmission stations are regularly attacked and masts felled leaving residents cut-off from communication.