Narok Senator Ledama ole Kina was grilled on Monday on alleged incitement, amid calls by a section of Rift Valley leaders for Inspector General of Police Joseph Boinnet to order his arrest.
Mr Ole Kina faced Narok County Security committee Chairman George Natembeya, County Police Commander Thomas Ngeiwua and his criminal investigations counterpart Zachary Kariuki.
The senator was questioned for about two hours on his recent public comments, which are said to have caused a rift between members of the Maasai and Kipsigis communities.
Mr Ole Kina said the clip that went viral on social medial, and led to his summoning, was fabricated to suit a propaganda narrative.
“The video clip was completely distorted to serve the political interests of some people who are against the Mau Forest evictions,” he said.
The first-time senator denied the accusations levelled against him, terming them a distraction from the government’s main agenda of evictions.
The summons came after two Kericho Members of Parliament (MPs) petitioned the National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) to investigate Ole Kina over escalating clashes around the Mau Forest complex, in Nakuru and Narok counties.
Last Thursday, the NCIC warned Ole Kina against incitement. In a statement issued in Nakuru town, the commission said the senator’s utterances were aimed at inciting communities in the clash-torn region.
After the grilling, the senator took to the streets of Narok with his supporters and emphasised that people must move out of Mau Forest.
His supporters chanted pro-Mau conservation slogans as they walked from the Narok county commissioner’s office to a popular ‘Rungu ya Moi’ spot where he addressed them.
The senator regretted that politicians from outside Narok have politicised the Mau matter at the expense of environmental conservation.
Mr Natembeya said he summoned Mr Ole Kina to warn him and other politicians against politicising the evictions, saying this could lead to ethnic tensions.
“All leaders from Narok and [other parts] should desist from political comments on the exercise. They must agree that if we do not conserve the Mau, there will be a disaster in this country. We cannot restore the Mau with people still inside it. They must move,” he said.
He called on Narok residents to live peacefully, saying the evictions are neither tribal nor political and that the government only wants to save the water tower.
Kilometres away in Bomet County, leaders called for Ole Kina’s arrest and prosecution. They included Senator Christopher Langat, Woman Representative Joyce Korir and MPs Beatrice Kones (Bomet East), Ronald Tonui (Bomet Central), Hillary Koskei (Kipkelion West), Gideon Koskei (Chepalungu) and Nelson Koech (Belgut)
Dr Langat noted that it is the responsibility of leaders to unite the people, not incite them into violence, especially not in a cosmopolitan region.
Mr Tonui said: “Leaders should not be allowed to incite communities and go scot-free. There is clearly enough evidence to charge the senator in court over hate speech and incitement.”
He added that leaders should be in the forefront in preaching peace and bringing communities together and that settlers in Narok have a right to own property just like the indigenous people.
Mr Koech said: “The government should not engage in a public relations stunt as witnessed this morning in a sensitive matter in which people lost their lives, hundreds got displaced, houses were torched and property worth millions of shillings was destroyed.”
Mrs Korir said that hundreds of children, women and the elderly have been subjected to untold suffering, having spent nights in the cold, after their houses were torched.
“Vulnerable groups cannot access medication and food,” she noted.
Mr Koskei was of the view that succession politics in the Maasai community should not be mixed with conservation.
“It is unfortunate that a leader who is on record repeatedly inciting the communities, and asking them to evict non-locals, is being pampered by state agencies with the responsibility to prosecute. It is unacceptable,” he said.
“The senator clearly wants to inherit the shoes left behind by the late William Ntimama, George Saitoti and Joseph Nkaissery in the community’s leadership. He is using the approach to ascend to that position.”
The lawmakers said government agencies should prosecute the senator as there is enough evidence against him, including audio and video documentation of the incitement at various public forums.
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