Thursday, December 13, 2012

I had no role in Tana clashes, says minister

Defence minister Yusuf Haji began giving his testimony at the Judicial Commission of Inquiry into the Tana River clashes sitting in Mombasa December 13, 2012.

Defence minister Yusuf Haji began giving his testimony at the Judicial Commission of Inquiry into the Tana River clashes sitting in Mombasa December 13, 2012.   NATION MEDIA GROUP

By DANIEL NYASSY dnyassy@ke.nationmedia,com

Defence minister Yusuf Haji has denied playing any role in the Tana River County clashes that left 100 villagers dead, homes and property destroyed and about 12,000 families displaced in August.

In his testimony before the Judicial Commission of Inquiry into the Tana River clashes sitting in Mombasa Thursday, Mr Haji vehemently denied accusations linking him to the deadly clashes.

He particularly denied that his cattle strayed into Tana River and contributed to the escalation of tensions between the pastoralist and agricultural communities in Tana River.

He informed the commission chaired by High Court judge Grace Nzioka that his herd has for the last three years been at Chakama Ranch in Malindi and not in Tana River as claimed.

Mr Haji, whose arrival at the commission venue with a retinue of bodyguards caused a commotion, said his Ijara constituents were opposed to the current boundary between Tana River and Ijara located some three kilometres from River Tana and wants the border shifted to the middle of the river.

He further told the Commission that Constituency Development Fund (CDF) money was used to compensate Pokomo farmers for crops destroyed by cattle.

Mr Haji is a key witness as he was the minister in charge of Internal Security in acting capacity at the time of the clashes and was led in his evidence-in-chief by State Counsel Samuel Aumba, assigned by Attorney General to represent him.

The minister was also adversely mentioned in the fierce exchanges that came in the wake of the clashes, with Galole MP Dhadho Godana demanding that he be investigated for possible involvement in the clashes due to his vested interested in Tana River County.

The Commission whose term was to end on December 10, has been granted an extension by President Kibaki and now has up to January 15 to wrap up its activities.

It had earlier held sessions in Hola and Garsen in Tana River and visited the sites of the clashes.

Among those who have testified are Coast PC Samuel Kilele, provincial police boss Aggrey Adoli and Lands Commissioner Zablon Mabea.

 

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