January 20th 2018

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Raila, civil society call for devolution of security as Mandera governor blames deployed forces of 'cowardice'

"I cannot ask for more security for Mandera. There are enough personnel but they cannot patrol because of fear. We have to look for them and ask why they cannot protect the people," he said.

By Phillip MuleeTuesday, 25 Oct 2016 15:00 EAT

CORD leader Raila Odinga. (PHoto: Raila's Facebook page).

CORD leader Raila Odinga has called for a policy to devolve some national security functions to the county governments following the killing of 12 people and wounding others in Mandera Town early this morning. Suspected Al Shabaab militants attacked a hotel in the town where at least 30 people, who are not natives of Mandera, were housed. Several reports including accounts by local leaders indicate that the police did not provide adequate security to the hotel, despite the presence of the guests having been a highly publicised affair in the terrorism hotspot.

In a statement to journalists, the CORD leader urged the national and county governments to initiate a joint program to address escalating cases of insecurity around the country. He condemned the killings as Mandera Governor Ali Roba lamented the county had enough security personnel but who were "too afraid to conduct night patrols". The governor said: "I cannot ask for more security for Mandera. There are enough personnel but they cannot patrol because of fear. We have to look for them and ask why they cannot protect the people."

The Governor’s assertions complicates the fight against terror and the call by Mr Odinga for a joint initiative comes in handy. “As we mourn the departed and comfort the bereaved, we wish to renew our appeal to the National Government to consider coming up with a programme, jointly with the Council of Governors, on how to shoulder the security function and ensure County and National Governments come together and share best practices to fight security threats”, said Mr Odinga.

The opposition leader said that while the National Government has the constitutional mandate to provide leadership on matters of national security, the changing threats demand that other levels of government be carried along to play a collaborative and not spectator role in this critical area. The attack, he said, came as the country was grappling with domestic security challenges in other parts of the country, and reminded Kenyans that Al Shabaab had not given up on their plans to constantly terrorize and injure innocent citizens going about their daily struggles.

National civil society leaders also joined the call for the devolution of some security aspects in order to increase effectiveness of police services in the counties. "‘One size fits all’ policing and law enforcement model approach controlled from Nairobi is colonial, archaic and does not allow room to respond to different security challenges and meet local needs," wrote Ndungu Wainaina  of the International Center for Policy and Conflict (ICPC), in an oped carried in the Kenya Free Press. 

In his address to the media, Governor Roba asked the government to dispatch 300 police reservists to boost the county's security. "The border security programme should also be fast-tracked," he said. Al Shabaab has carried out several attacks in Mandera since midyear. On October 5, six people were killed after the militants attacked a residential plot in Bulla public works in Mandera town. According to the police, the attackers shot randomly at the tenants who were asleep and that those affected were non-locals.

Today, Governor Roba noted that Al Shabaab's aim was to isolate the region and that their attacks are geared towards sabotaging the region's economic growth. "The attacks impose economic sanctions in this region. They do not want us to attract investors and interact with the rest of the country," he said, "The population needs to wake up from its slumber," he said, "they attack locals as part of a larger mission to bring Kenya down. While they are killing indiscriminately in Somalia, they are pretending to be targeting non-Muslims in Mandera, which is hypocritical".

The governor condemned the attack and condoled with victims' families. The militants attacked the lodging's occupants using grenades and IEDs at around 3:30am this morning. Part of the building that had 33 people collapsed, killing at least 12, governmnet spokesman Eric Kiraithe said in a statement.

Mr Kiraithe said security officers on patrol responded immediately and cordoned off the area before they could begin search and rescue operations. "All occupants at the hotel were evacuated and six have been rescued alive from the debris so far," Kiraithe said. he also said preliminary investigations into the attack had yielded several leads for the police, adding, "Mandera Town is usually under 24 hour security surveillance, and bomb experts are on site to establish the source of the explosives and gather further evidence," he said.

Earlier, Mandera East OCPD Ezekiel Sing'oe said some of the deceased were teachers who were visiting for KCSE set book performances. "It is true there was an attack. Rescue efforts are ongoing," Mandera county commander Job Boronjo said. The gunmen believed to be al-Shabaab militants escaped towards the Somalia border.


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