• But Odongo denied the claims, saying last week he received relief food of beans and rice and distributed them evenly to the intended needy people.
• He accused some politicians of inciting residents.
Starving Pokot residents of Tiaty in Baringo are protesting against what they call neglect by the government amid a security operation to flush out bandits.
Hundreds of residents on Saturday who carried sticks, twigs and placards marched around Tangulbei town in Tiaty East. They also burned tyres and called for the removal of an administrator whom they said has been selling relief food.
They have been holding demonstrations since last Monday.
The irate residents chanted “deputy county commissioner Josiah Odongo must go", claiming he sells relief food meant to feed hungry residents and school children to unknown businesspeople at night.
But Odongo denied the claims, saying last week he received a few consignments of relief food-beans and rice-, which he distributed evenly to the intended needy people.
Odongo said he received 400 bags against the 1,500 required to feed redsidents, “so surely how one can mismanage already scarce donation,” he said.
He said some food items are still intact in stores waiting to be dispatched.
“Every time we receive relief food, we always work closely with a committee formed by residents to identify the needy families before we dispatch it,” he said.
Odongo urged school heads to submit request letters immediately to his office so he can push the government to channel food for the school feeding programme.
He accused some elected leaders in the area of inciting the public to protest against him for helping to arrest and prosecuting law breakers.
“During campaigns some politicians always said if reelected they would make sure Odongo is transferred immediately. Yes, they may be right but they are using the wrong approach,” Odongo said.
Resident Brian Simatia said on Sunday the government has neglected them and residents are suffering.
“Not all Pokots are bandits, but we fear the government might end up enforcing collective punishment against the entire Pokot community in Tiaty. The government has left us to suffer in hunger,” Simatia said.
Tangulbei MCA Shedrack Mailuk said the majority of residents, including women, elderly and children, were starving amid the ongoing operation.
“Local markets and roads were closed and people are unable to sell their livestock to buy food,” he said.
Mailuk said hunger has forced school children to resort to hunting and feeding on wild fruits ‘cactus’ and ‘Kinyat’
He denied claims that he was among the politicians who allegedly incited residents to protest, saying it was their own initiative. “Hunger has just pushed them to do so,” Mailuk said.
Last week, Pokot elders and clerics took a delegation to county commissioner Abdirisack Jaldesa's office demanding fair treatment.
Elder Michael Kolem said not all members of the community are bandits, so the government should not apply collective punishment.
Jaldesa said they were acting on a presidential order to flush out the killer bandits, "but on the issue of opening markets and roadblocks I will forward it to my bosses for discussion".
Security officers have been deployed in the area to disarm and flush out armed bandits who recently killed eight GSU officers and three civilians in Napeitom, Turkana East.