• Kitui Senator Enoch Wambua accused the commission of doing little to foster peace and integration between the parties.
• Farmers have accused the herders of invading their farms with their camels and destroying their crops. The invasions have triggered violent clashes.
The NCIC was on Wednesday put on the spot over its slow response to quell conflicts between herders and farmers in Kitui.
Appearing before the Senate’s National Cohesion and Integration Committee, NCIC officials led by its chairman Samuel Kobia and CEO Skitter Ocharo, were hard-pressed to explain their intervention to end the conflict.
The panel is chaired by Marsabit Senator Mohamed Chute.
“We would like to be told until when the people of Kitui will continue suffering at the hands of people who have invaded their land and forcefully graze their camels?” nominated Senator Beth Syengo posed.
Kitui Senator Enoch Wambua accused the commission of doing little to foster peace and integration between the parties.
He questioned the commission for holding a leaders peace meeting in Nairobi instead of visiting Kitui to reconcile the communities.
“Why do you hold a meeting in Nairobi yet the conflict is in Kitui? It does not add up,” Wambua said.
Dozens of people are said to have been killed and injured in clashes triggered by camel herders from neighbouring counties who have been pushed by the prolonged drought to Kitui.
Farmers have accused the herders of invading their farms with their camels and destroying their crops. The invasions have triggered violent clashes.
“Let me make it very clear that members of the Akamba and Somali communities do not have ethnic disputes between them. They coexist peacefully in Kitui and Garissa towns where they do business,” Wambua said.
“What we have here is a case of invaders with camels forcefully entering farms owned by other people.”
In his submission, Kobia admitted that the conflict has over the years led to the loss of lives, displacement and destruction of property.
“Resource-based conflict is historical and dates back to the precolonial period but aggravated during drought, the recent conflict is due to the infiltration of the Kitui residents’ farms by the Somali herders from the neighbouring counties of Garissa and Tana River,” Kobia said.
He told the Senate committee that the herders were in desperate search of water and pasture for their camels.
The chairman said elders from Somali and Kamba communities have held peace meetings.
He said some political leaders had issued inflammatory statements that have exacerbated the conflict.
“Kitui and Garissa governors as well as regional commissioners for Eastern and Northeastern have held a meeting calling for an end to the skirmishes,” Kobia said.
“Peace committees have been set up in the affected areas to promote peace and report on criminals made to authorities.”
He said the commission convened political leaders from the herder community, Kitui county and county commissioners from Kitui, Tana River and Garissa in Nairobi on November 4.
Chairman Chute said Kenyans had high expectations in the commission to discharge its mandate effectively to ensure peace among communities.
“We will be engaging the commission and other partners to ensure that we promote national cohesion during our five-year tenure and we will not allow anybody to promote conflict and disharmony in the country,” Chute said.