Lobby wants proper probe into Isiolo ICU beds alleged lease

Monday May 18 2020
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Members of Isiolo Human Rights Defenders group address journalists in Isiolo town on May 17, 2020. They claimed that probe into the alleged leasing of some of the Covid-19 ICU beds at Isiolo Referral Hospital from a private facility are biased. PHOTO | WAWERU WAIRIMU | NATION MEDIA GROUP

By WAWERU WAIRIMU

A lobby group has accused Isiolo County security team of biased investigations into the alleged leasing of some of the intensive care unit (ICU) beds at the Isiolo Referral Hospital from a private facility.

Members of the Isiolo Human Rights Defenders group were among the first people to share pictures online showing a pickup truck being loaded with the equipment outside the private hospital and the same vehicle later entering the referral hospital.

The activists lamented that their complaints on growing threats and intimidation by some senior county government officials over the saga have not been acted on despite reporting to the Directorate of Criminal Investigations office in Isiolo town.

HARASSMENT

The group complained over harassment by the security organs, citing an incident on Thursday where their three members were forced into a police vehicle and paraded before the county security team.

“The DCIO had called us over the threat issue we had earlier reported but instead forced us into one of the vehicles and paraded us before the security team at the county commissioner’s office,” said the group’s chairman Abdikadir Hassan.

“While we were to record further details over our insult complaints, the security team bashed us with questions on the ICU beds saga and even threatened to forcibly seize our phones which we objected,” he said.

The lobby group claimed that the security team is being used by Governor Mohamed Kuti, who recently ordered a probe, to intimidate them for exposing suspected anomalies in the county.

Governor Kuti recently claimed that the activists were being used by his political enemies to tarnish his image, maintaining that all the ICU beds were bought from the Mission for Essential Drugs and Supplies (MEDS).

“We bought all the beds from MEDS and have all documents to show. What is circulating online is pure propaganda being peddled by leaders who never appreciate the good work being done by my government,” said the governor.

LIFE IN DANGER

The lobby group’s coordinator Ibrahim Wako said they are fearing for their lives as the security organs that should protect them have reportedly taken sides.

The activists have already petitioned the Senate to probe the bed’s leasing saga and written to the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNHCR) and the Independent Policing Oversight Authority over the alleged harassment by the security team.

“We are appealing to the Director of Public Prosecutions, Interior Cabinet Secretary, KNHCR, Kenyans and other rights defenders to come to our rescue,” said Mr Wako.

SUMMONS

A summons letter issued to three of the lobby’s members by the Isiolo Sub-County DCIO Joseph Gichuki seen by the Nation notes that detectives are investigating a case of publication of false information contrary to Section 23 of the Computer Misuse and Cybercrimes Act, 2018.

“…for purpose of investigations, please present yourself before the office. You may come with your legal representative,” the summonses dated May 15 read.

Isiolo County Commissioner Herman Shambi dismissed the allegations, arguing that the activists had only been summoned to shed light on some issues which are part of the ongoing probe.

The administrator maintained that investigations into the ICU beds are going on in earnest and that the concerns by the activists will be looked into.

“Some people have lodged complaints against them and investigations are ongoing. Their concerns will also be investigated,” Mr Shambi said.

“They (activists) should allow investigations continue and be completed. I want to state clearly that we are not supporting any politician,” he added.