All elected leaders from Isiolo County skipped the Mashujaa Day celebrations held at Isiolo town police grounds over alleged differences with County Commissioner Joseph Kanyiri.
Those who did not attend the event include Senator Fatuma Dullo, Woman Rep Rehema Jaldesa, Isiolo North MP Hassan Odha and his South counterpart Abdi Koropu and all the MCAs, both elected and nominated.
Only two county executives, Lawrence Mwongera (Livestock) and his counterpart Wario Galma (Health), who represented Governor Mohamed Kuti, attended the occasion graced by Mr Kanyiri.
Sources say the Isiolo politicians were offended by the way the county security team carried out an operation to recover stolen camels in Merti Sub-County which could have made them snub the event.
In the operation carried out last week, 115 camels believed to have been stolen from Garissa were seized by police in Biliqo and later detained at Merti Police Station but Isiolo locals insisted that they belonged to a known herder, Adan Wako.
The Isiolo woman rep Rehema Jaldesa, Isiolo North MP Hassan Odha and Nominated Senator Abshiro Halake complained that police officers were using wrong mechanisms in identifying stolen animals, exposing the rightful owners to embarrassment and loss.
The leaders insisted that elders must be involved in such operations.
“This is pure injustice and discrimination on our people while it is well known that malicious people can frame buyers and claim ownership of the animals,” said Ms Jaldesa.
MP Odha said legislators from pastoral communities had resolved to work with the government in eradicating rustling but would not allow collective punishment as it is both unconstitutional and unacceptable.
“The government should form a rapid response force to deal with culprits once an incident is reported,” Mr Odha said.
The leaders argued that while most Isiolo herders routinely buy camels and cattle from neighbouring Wajir and Garissa counties, the animals still bears marks by the original owners, thus exposing the buyer to suspicion of being thieves.
In most cases, no receipts are issued during the sale usually done in local markets.
And with the animals also bearing the buyer’s mark, it becomes difficult to tell the rightful owner, making unscrupulous businesspeople to frame buyers and having their animals seized and returned back to them.
On his part, the county commissioner said every leader has liberty to either attend or skip the celebrations.
“It is not obligatory for them to attend as they are the ones to decide whether to attend or not,” Mr Kanyiri told the Nation on Monday.
The county commissioner said he was aware that some of the leaders were unhappy with the way his team carried out the Merti operation but dismissed but claims of bad blood between him and the politicians.
“We have a very good working relationship with all the county leaders and we are committed to working together for the common good of Isiolo residents,” the administrator said.
He asked the leaders to appreciate the good work being done by the security team in dealing with cattle rustling, vowing to continue being firm and fair in the operations.
Ms Jaldesa, Mr Odha, Ms Dullo, County Assembly Majority Leader Isack Fayo were unreachable for comments as their phones were switched off.