Land tenure, use and conflict over resources were among key causes of ethnic violence that claimed more than 160 lives and destroyed property worth millions of shillings in Tana, a judicial commission report says.
The report by the Judicial Commission of Inquiry into the ethnic violence in Tana River, Tana North and Tana Delta says other causes of the clashes included influx of livestock, politics, illegal firearms and fear of marginalisation.
“The commission established that several issues related to land were either the underlying, probable or immediate cause of the violence,” the report says.
It adds that the issues revolved around land adjudication, immigrant settlements on trust land, settlement schemes, the concept of villagisation, the ban on use canoes and lack of respect for property rights.
Encroached on their land
On boundaries, the commission says there is a dispute over the border between Tana River District and Ijara District.
It says according to Tana River residents, the boundary is three miles from the River Tana and according to the people of Ijara District, it is at the River Tana.
“It was also established that it is not in dispute that several Ijara District projects have been constructed within the three-mile strip and as a result, the people of Tana River are aggrieved as they perceive these to not only have encroached on their land but are also denying them revenue,” the report says.
It observed that the boundary issue was the reason for the bad blood between Garissa Senator Yusuf Haji and former Galole MP Dhadho Godana.
The commission also found out that a government decision to increase locations in the county from 14 at independence to 42 to date had fuelled disputes between the Pokomo, who are farmers, and pastoralists who include the Orma, Wardei and Galjeel.
“According to the Pokomo, these locations were politically instigated to allow the pastoralists to occupy the land within the Tana Delta District, which is trust land occupied by farmers,” the commission says.
It says the influx of livestock from neighbouring districts in North East into Tana River County and in particular into Tana Delta District during the dry spell was another cause of conflict.
The report, which has been presented to President Kenyatta but has not been made public, also blames the violence on proliferation of firearms, most held by illegal immigrants and those stolen from security officers.
It adds that the violence in the Tana Delta District in August, September and December 2012 and in January 2013 was well planned and executed.
“The commission found that prior to the attacks, the law enforcement agencies had adequate knowledge of Mombasa Republican Council (MRC) activities among Pokomo youths,” it says.
It observes that there was sufficient information that some Orma youths were also being trained by retired army and security offices to counter any attacks by the Pokomo.
“However, the commission found no tangible action was taken by the security agencies to combat the alleged MRC activities,” it notes.
The commission also linked the 2012/2013 violence to politics because it says the same thing happened during clashes preceding the 2002 and 2007 elections.
“The commission found that all county leadership seats in the last election (2007) were won by pastoralists who swore to repeat it on March, 4 2013. This allegedly made the Pokomo bitter and they vowed to fight back. That was an immediate recipe for violence,” the report says.
It adds that security briefs given by National Intelligence Service (NIS) contained sufficient leads for further investigation and action by the security agents.
“On the investigation of crime the Commission found that the police investigations fell shot of the basic and reasonable standards of care and skill of an investigator into incidents of crime as required by the forces standing orders,” it says.