Interior Cabinet Secretary Joseph Nkaissery on Wednesday said the woman whose body was found in a grave in Mandera had been a cook for the Al-Shabaab terror group in Somalia.
Even as he was addressing the media and demanded that Mandera Senator Billow Kerrow apologise publicly for spreading “unnecessary alarm” with his allegations of a mass grave in Mandera, Cord leader Raila Odinga was visiting the family of Isnina Musa Sheikh, whose body was found in a shallow grave on Sunday.
However, Governor Ali Roba warned the Cord leader against using the misfortunes of Mandera people for his political gains.
“I have just heard that Raila is coming here today and I ask him not to use our current problems for political gains because he has been in this country when we suffered, losing teachers, medical staff and the quarry killings but he never visited us,” Mr Roba said during an event to make the International Anti-Corruption Day.
In Nairobi, Maj-Gen Nkaissery denied claims that there was a mass grave in Mandera and defended security agencies from accusations of extra-judicial killings.
“There are no mass graves found in Mandera or any other part of this country… Kenyans should know that there are numerous interests that seem inclined to destroy this nation,” he said and challenged Mr Kerrow, who first made the allegations, to withdraw them.
“He will have to retract and apologise to Kenyans. And if he doesn’t do that, whoever it is, even if it is Senator Billow Kerrow then the law will take its course. Beginning now, those who will not apologise, the consequences will be grave,” the CS warned during the Harambee House press conference.
According to Mr Nkaissery, the 29-year-old Ms Musa was an Al-Shabaab sympathiser who fled Bulahawa in Somalia where she worked for the terrorists.
“The little information we have is that… she is alleged to have been a cook for Al-Shabaab in Bulahawa and when Al-Shabaab was overrun or were routed out of Bulahawa, she ran to Kenya; she ran to Mandera and she started working in a kiosk selling tea.”
Mr Nkaissery said it was possible that Ms Musa was killed by Al-Shabaab, but investigations into her death were still going on.
Mr Kerrow and other leaders from northeastern had on Monday accused the Kenya Defence Forces and the police of executing terrorism suspects and burying them in mass graves.
The leaders also claimed that 25 bodies had been found in one shallow grave in Omar Jillo, some 30 kilometres south of Mandera town.
However, only one body — that of Ms Musa — has been found, although police and other agencies are in the area searching for mass graves.
By Wednesday, no other bodies had been found.
Mr Kerrow had tweeted on Monday of “shocking discovery of mass graves of dozens of victims of enforced disappearances”.
On Tuesday, in a television interview, a Kenya National Commission on Human Rights official said her team had reported at least 25 disappearances of people from northern Kenya.
However, during the same show, police spokesman Charles Owino said further dig-ups on Tuesday had unearthed no more bodies.
On Wednesday, Mr Nkaissery accused northern Kenya leaders of having a consistent agenda to frustrate the war on terrorism by accusing police of extra-judicial killings.
He also accused two television journalists, Mr Yassin Juma and Mr Mohammed Ali of having made the claims of mass graves through social media.
He demanded that the two apologise or face “grave” consequences.
“He (Mr Ali) has had a habit of permanently putting the security agencies of the country in the space of Al-Shabaab. He has been putting the security agencies in the negative and putting Al-Shabaab in the positive. It is wrong. That is unpatriotic,” said Mr Nkaissery.
Mr Ali used social media to report that he was in Mandera on Wednesday following up on the reports of disappearances.
As the government insists that no bodies had been found, some Mandera residents complain that their relatives are still missing.
Last evening, Mr Nkaissery said it was the duty of family members to report their missing relatives.
“People must account for their loved ones. Unless the government is told, the government cannot come and count people on a daily basis. We have intercepted hundreds of youth trying to cross (into Somalia) and we returned them,” he said.
According to him, the government is rehabilitating 1,000 youth who had joined Al-Shabaab but fled.
During his visit to Mandera, Mr Odinga condoled with the families who have reported their relatives missing.
“We have to first register as voters to push for better times ahead,” he said.