• Mandago demanded top security officers should within two weeks arrest those behind writing and circulating the threatening leaflets on populous Kipkaren Estate.
• He said the leaflets were the work of criminals aiming to divide communities and residents of the town who have been living peacefully since the 2007-08 post-election violence.
The authors of threatening hate leaflets have been ordered arrested as Governor Jackson Mandago sought to calm tension among targeted communities.
The leaflets tell four communities to leave the area, claiming the land historically does not belong to them. They own the land legally, however, and hold titles to it.
Mandago on Tuesday ordered the arrest of the authors, printers and distributors of the small, seven-line leaflets printed in Kiswahili and mainly dropped on the populous Kipkaren Estate.
Security has been stepped up in the area.
“We know police have the capacity to bring those involved to book and if they will not do so we will petition the Senate and Parliament so they are summoned for grilling – or they will be transferred so we get committed officers ready to work," Mandago told a press briefing.
He said if police do not arrest those involved, he would lead a citizens' arrest of the suspects once they are identified. He said similar leaflets had been circulated in the past but police failed to arrest those involved.
He said the leaflets were the work of criminals intending to cause divisions among communities and residents of the town who have been living peacefully since the 2007-08 post-election violence.
He and Deputy Governor Daniel Chemno said residents of region should go about their business without being worried about insecurity because of the leaflets.
“If it’s the work of people who want to use politics to cause problems in this region, let them know it will not work at all. Our people will remain peaceful and not even the next elections will cause problems here," the governor said.
“If the senior police officers do not know [who's guilty], then they have no business being here. They should leave so we get those who can work," Mandago said.
He said the leaflets must have been printed in a cyber café and cyber crime officers should be able to arrest those involved.
Mandago said peace committees throughout the county had already been activated to ensure the region remains peaceful ahead of the next elections.
“As the NOREB region comprising all eight counties in North Rift, we are working together to sustain peace and unity," the governor said. He is chairman of the North Rift Economic Bloc.
Police are investigating circulation of the leaflets. Security has been stepped up after residents said they were afraid.
Kipkaren is in Kapseret constituency represented by MP Oscar Sudi.
Kapseret OCPD Francis Warui said the circulation of the leaflets had been reported to police, CID officers were investigating and would make arrests.
“Police are pursuing the matter and there should be no cause for alarm because we have strengthened security and will arrest those responsible," Warui said.
Residents led by former councillor David Kipleting Kokwas held a meeting in the area and condemned the leaflets.
“We have all along lived in peace and unity and we will not allow some individuals to cause divisions or panic among us," he said.
Some residents said leaflets had been dropped at their doorstep and were reported to police.
Two weeks ago, the NCCK warned of increasing hate speech and general tribal incitement by political leaders as the country moves towards the planned referendum and the 2022 General Election.
NCCK officials in Rift Valley led by Venerable Solomon Chelalal said Kenyans should reject leaders who thrive on backward politics. He said the council would help monitor and report leaders and any individuals planning to incite Kenyans.
Bishops and Muslim Imams and Preachers in Rift Valley have also launched joint peace initiatives to sensitise politicians on the need to keep the peace and speak moderately.
Catholic Bishop of Eldoret Dominic Kimengich and chairman of the Muslim Imams Abubakar Bini said they would start peace meetings with political leaders and all communities.
(Edited by V. Graham)