Supremacy battles between Ford-K and New Ford-K played out on Saturday at the burial of a businessman killed at the height of a wave of insecurity in Bungoma County.
The funeral service for Mr Timothy Nyongesa who was hacked to death by unknown people was held at Sacred Training Institute in Bungoma before his burial at Mashambani Estate.
Politicians from the two rival Ford parties addressed the funeral gathering at different intervals as they traded accusations over attacks in the county that have shocked the nation.
New Ford-K leaders led by Bungoma Governor Ken Lusaka, Women Representative Reginalda Wanyonyi and former MP Musikari Kombo were the first to arrive and address mourners.
Mr Lusaka and his team left before Bungoma Senator Moses Wetang’ula, Kiminini MP Chris Wamalwa, Sirisia MP John Waluke and Kanduyi MP Wafula Wamunyinyi arrived.
The two camps maintained that there was a political hand in the attacks and threatened to name the sponsors of the violence.
Ford-K won five seats in the county in the March 4 elections while New Ford-K bagged four, heightening the fight for control of the county that has begun long before the polls.
Mr Wetang’ula said leaders in his Cord camp were being unfairly blamed for the attacks that were being carried out by losers in the elections to taint his name and that of Cord to divert investigations.
Ready to die
“They should stop harassing and intimidating leaders in Cord. If I am the target, then they should come for me. I am ready to die fighting for the truth,” he said.
He said the government has the means to know who the attackers are and wondered why the State was taking the country in circles before arresting and naming the attackers “who are known by the victims.”
“Why are police chasing decoys and leaving the suspects whom they know to go scot free and continue terrorising residents?”
He maintained that the attackers are people hired by leaders who lost in the elections and are well known to the authorities.
“The murdered trader, Mr Timothy Nyongesa contributed money to my campaigns. His wife and my family know the immense contribution he made to me and Ford-K as a whole. How can I attack my own people?” he posed. Mr Wetangula’s brother, Fred and former Bumula MP Bifwoli Wakoli have been interviewed by police.
Addressing the mourners, Mr Lusaka said detectives dispatched to the area from Nairobi have arrested 22 youths believed to be behind the attacks in Kikwechi.
The governor claimed a political leader from the area was said to have paid the youths Sh100,000 to carry out the attacks.
Mr Lusaka regretted that ongoing political rows in the county were hurting development. “We need to unite as leaders and spearhead development for our people and deliver on our campaign pledges.”
Mr Wetang’ula said he was ready to work with Mr Lusaka because he was given mandate by the people. He added that he recently convened a meeting of all elected leaders in Bungoma County in Naivasha to discuss how they could forge unity.
Mr Kombo said there could be no development without security and challenged the government to get to the root of the attacks.
More than 600 people have been arrested following attacks in Bungoma and Busia counties with President Uhuru Kenyatta calling on police to end the mayhem. (EDITORIAL: Arrest those behind violence in Bungoma)