Suspects in ethnic clashes in Elburgon remanded for 10 days

Fourteen suspects linked to the skirmishes that rocked areas in the Eastern Mau Forest, in the past one week have been remanded for 10 days in police custody.

Senior resident magistrate Lilian Arika remanded the suspects including a former Member of County Assembly Joseph Miangari and a Kenya Defense Forces serviceman at Bondeni and Njoro police stations to allow police conclude investigations.

By Saturday evening, at least six people had been killed and several left nursing arrow injuries in Elburgon and Nakuru Level Five hospitals following the clashes after members of the two rival communities fought over ownership of land on the edges of the Eastern Mau Forest.

The government has dispatched more than 200 police officers to quell the skirmishes.

The prosecution had requested the court to have them detained for 14 days.

The investigating officer in a sworn affidavit said he needs to obtain mobile phone communication data and get more witnesses to record statements before the suspects can enter their plea to the charges.

The Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) in a sworn affidavit by Sergeant Joshua Tobolei said the suspects were being probed on suspicions of murder, promoting war-like undertaking, arson and incitement to violence.

Mr Tobolei said they needed time to conclude interrogation of suspects, retrieval of their criminal records as well as record statements and conduct identification parades.

The suspect’s defense counsel Ochang Ajigo opposed the application saying the police were punishing his clients by holding them without charging them.

Several houses and business premises have been torched and all activities brought to a standstill.

The arraignment of the 14 in court came against calls by local leaders on the warring communities to end the conflict and embrace peace as uneasy calm was reported in the region.

Nakuru Governor Lee Kinyanjui, Senator Susan Kihika, MPs Charity Kathambi (Njoro), Kuria Kimani (Molo), Joseph Tonui (Kuresoi South) and Woman Rep Liza Chelule have asked the communities involved in the conflict to stop the fights.

Mr Kinyanjui said he was deeply upset by recurrent skirmishes in Mariashoni and Nessuit within Njoro Sub-County. The governor stated that he was liaising with County Commissioner Erastus Mbui Mwenda and local police chiefs to enhance security presence across the area to prevent further loss of lives and property.

Urging the residents to maintain peace and stop bloodshed, the County boss noted that residents must embrace dialogue and reconciliation as conflict over land can only be sorted through legal processes.

“The sight of burning houses and suffering families is unbearable and primitive.

This is a situation that threatens to reverse gains made in containment of Covid-19 pandemic as thousands of locals including elderly, sick and the young uprooted from their homes are now crowded at Oinoptich Primary School in Mariashoni,” said Mr Kinyanjui.

The government has declared a dusk to dawn restriction of movement for people in the clash-hit areas of Mariashoni and in Mau Narok at the Nakuru-Narok border which also experienced clashes earlier.

Rift Valley Regional Coordinator George Natembeya revealed that detectives from the Directorate of Criminal Investigations are pursuing 10 people, among them politicians, who are suspected to have planned the violence.

He said among those arrested is a chief from Mariashoni who was found with arrows and other weapons.

The violence has been linked to the sticky Mau Forest land issue and political incitement among other factors.

Early this month the government kicked off evictions of illegal settlers on the fringes of the expansive Eastern Mau Forest in Nakuru.

Kenya Forest Service (KFS) has kicked off a multi-agency operation to reclaim Logoman, Sururu, Likia, Kiptunga, Mariashoni, Nessuit, Baraget and Olposimoru forests within the Mau Forest complex.

The operation started on June 27 and it involves officers from KFS and the Kenya Police Service.

The operation seeks to stop all illegal human activities in these government forests which form the Eastern side of Mau Forest complex.

More evictions are expected in Nessuit, Tachasis, Chepkosa, Sururu and Likia targeting about 20,000 households.



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