Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho is yet to surrender his firearms and the licensing certificate, five days after being instructed by the Chief Licensing Officer Samwel Kimaru to do so.
That act of defiance puts the governor at loggerheads with the Interior ministry, which two days ago, accused Mr Joho of crossing “the red line” by defying a police order.
It also, curiously, elevates the governor to the position of a political heavyweight, with many opposition leaders praising him for “standing up” to oppression by the Executive.
The Opposition has argued that the governor is being harassed for delivering the Malindi parliamentary seat to the Cord coalition last week, but Interior CS Joseph Nkaissery on Saturday said the demands had no political motivation.
Mr Nkaissery said the government had taken the step against the governor because of recent events surrounding the politician’s life, but opposition leaders insist Mr Joho is being punished for standing firm in the Malindi by-election campaigns.
“The government realised there were unresolved issues on Container Freight Station (CFS) and a decision was made to withdraw the gun licence. If investigations show that the issues regarding the CFSs are okay, he will have his guns back. His chest thumping that guns cannot be taken away is crossing the red line,” said the minister.
“Behind the scenes, he is cooperating with the police but engaging in theatrics in public. Nobody can be bold enough to compete with government. You can’t challenge the government. Do not be mistaken on the government’s resolve.”
On Friday police had said that the governor had surrendered one of his firearms and they were waiting for him to submit the remaining ones.
According to a letter signed by Mr Kimaru, Mr Joho owns three firearms; a rifle and two pistols.
OUT OF THE COUNTY
On Sunday, Coast Regional Police Commander Francis Wanjohi said that, contrary to media reports, only the governor’s brother, Mr Abubakar Joho, had surrendered his firearm.
“He surrendered his weapon personally to me over the weekend,” said Mr Wanjohi, and urged the governor to return the weapon as directed by the government.
“I have heard that the governor has travelled but we are still waiting for him to surrender the firearm as there will be penalties if he fails to comply,” said Mr Wanjohi.
Asked if there was a deadline for the submission of the firearms, Mr Wanjohi said he was not aware, “but if he fails to comply with the orders he will be faced by some challenges”.
He added that the orders to withdraw Mr Joho’s guns were from the chief licensing officer.
While the police intimated that the governor had travelled outside Mombasa, sources indicated that the governor had taken a break to “cool off” over the recent events befalling himself and his family.
“The governor is around, but he is just cooling off based on what is going on currently,” said the source, adding that from today he would be around and about his usual business of running the county affairs.
The woes facing the outspoken governor have attracted friends and foes in equal measure, with each either supporting or defending him, depending on political inclination.