February 25th 2018

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Wajir SUPKEM officials, elders join hands to fight against changaa, promote peace

Dr Adan Yunis Sheikh, the newly elected SUPKEM Regional Coordinator for North Eastern and the Wajir Branch chairman, was the brain behind today’s event where the participants addressed several issues that interface with security, peace and religion.

By Abdirahman Rashid Farahabdirahmancajab@gmail.comThursday, 02 Nov 2017 22:10 EAT

Elders and religious leaders follow proceedings at the meeting.

The Supreme Council of Kenya Muslims (SUPKEM) Wajir Branch today hosted a consultative meeting bringing together elders, preachers and community leaders to deliberate on measures of eradicating illegal drugs and promoting peace in the region.

As the population dynamics of Wajir are changing with increased urbanisation, so too, it seems, are the values in this traditionally Islamic stronghold. In the meeting held at the Raha Palace Hotel, the 30 elders and 30 Muslim clerics attending expressed alarm at the rising cases of changaa being produced and consumed by people in reclusive homes.

Dr Adan Yunis Sheikh, the newly elected SUPKEM Regional Coordinator for North Eastern and the Wajir Branch chairman, was the brain behind today’s event where the participants addressed several issues that interface with security, peace and religion.

While opening the event at 900am at Raha Palace Hotel, Dr Adan challenged the participants to contribute their ideas to five agenda items, namely: a) advocating for peace in Wajir County, b) fighting illegally brewed changaa, c) fighting drug use and abuse, d) fostering Islamic culture in the county, and, e) creating unity among the different communities in the county. 

“We have critically investigated what is going on the town and we have observed changa is brewed here and its consumption is increasing,” Dr Adan said., adding that, although the government had licensed two entertainment clubs in Wajir which are allowed to serve alcohol, “changaa is not licensed and it is illegal. Secondly, our youths are using drugs which is illegal too.”

Dr Adan also warned hotel managers in the county to fully scrutinize their clients who lodge in hotel rooms and report to the authorities any suspicious patrons. He further advised hotel managers to be careful about men booking hotels with female companions, urging that such people should be asked to produce marriage certificate before booking rooms together.

Mr Noor Ahmed Ali, a religious scholar and Wajir Peace chairman, said the image of the town is changing. “We have to fight this evil behavior,” he said, adding that for the town to continue enjoying the peace it has been known for, people’s conduct must be within acceptable norms.

“There is no peace without understanding, and without peace there can be no development,” he said, and urged his team members to work closely with SUPKEM team to restore “good behavior” in the county. 

Also in attendance was former Gurar Ward MCA Bishar licho, Senior Chief Township Mr Mohamed Noor and Senior Chief Barwaqo Mr Adan Ali. Senior Chief Mohamed Noor who is known in fighting changaa and drugs in the town urged elders and clerics to join hands in fighting this drugs in the county. 

Senior Chief Adan Ali who spoke with journalists at the event, said the move that has been proposed by the SUPKEM official would help the administrators improve security in the town.

The senior chief said the people of Wajir had a history of unity and peace building, and appealed to members of the business community to help the government identify anyone who is dealing in drug trade. He also said members of the public had a big responsibility to help government officials. 

Professor Nunow is a senior Muslim scholar in Wajir who has fighting drugs and illegal brews since 1992, said the local leaders had cut down the number of clubs in the area in order to curb the spread of bad behaviour. “We used to have seven clubs here but we reduce the two,” he said, explaining that the government should work with community leaders in implementing interventions against drugs. 

Abdullahi Riba, a veteran politician and community elder, said the government at both county and national levels should fund the elders and Muslim clerics to reach their goals of curtailing drug abuse.

The meeting resolved the county assembly be asked to prepare a bill to fight illegal brews like changaa and other illegal drugs. They also want the police to identify all the drug peddlers in the town and see to it that they are brought for punishment as required by law. The third resolution was that Muslims clerics should preach against drug use in their mosques.

It was also resolved that a joint committee be formed bringing together elders, Muslim clerics and security officials in the county to provide a platform for information sharing among the groups.

Finally, the meeting agreed that the resolutions of today’s meeting, including the minutes, be shared with the governor, all Members of Parliament, county security team, all Members of the County Assembly and national government officials for their information and further action in furtherance of the anti-drug fight.

Abdirahman Rashid Farah is a contributing reporter for the Kenya Free Press based in Wajir County

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