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NCIC warns over hate on social media in Marsabit and Mandera

Saturday August 01 2020
Kobia

National Cohesion and Integration Commission Chairman Samuel Kobia during a past event. FILE PHOTO | NATION MEDIA GROUP

By JACOB WALTER

The National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) has raised concerns over increase in hate speech and incitement on social media platforms in Marsabit and Mandera counties.

NCIC chairperson Samuel Kobia said the commission is monitoring social media platforms in the two counties and warned users against abusing the freedom of expression.

“The NCIC is concerned with the intensified hate speech and incitement on social media in Mandera and Marsabit counties,’’ Dr Kobia said in a press release.

Dr Kobia said most online conversations have continued to threaten the fragile cohesion fabric in the two counties and their environs.

He warned that the commission was monitoring all the social media platforms for hate speech in a bid to have the perpetrators apprehended and charged in courts of law.

“While all citizens are guaranteed freedom of expression by Article 33 of the Constitution, it does not provide leeway for incitement to violence or ethnic hatred, vilification with an intent to cause harm,” he stated.

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The NCIC reiterated its commitment to pursuing sustainable peace by working with other stakeholders in Marsabit and Mandera.

The NCIC warning comes only a week after its commissioners traversed the Northern counties in a fact-finding mission on the persistent conflicts.

The northern region has lagged behind the rest of Kenya in the last fifty years due to conflict, poverty and marginalization.

Marsabit and Mandera have seen intensified ethnic flare ups in the past decade with hundreds losing their lives with some attacks deliberately targeting women and children.

Several reasons have been given for the perennial clashes among the Gabbra, Borana and Rendile communities in Marsabit, and deadly conflicts among the Somali, Degodia and Garre communities.

Marsabit county Deputy Governor Solomon Gubo, cited failure to address the past abuses and violations among the feuding clans in the Northern region has continued to fuel conflicts.

He explained that deep animosity and mistrust witnessed among the warring communities would be curbed if the historical injustices were revisited.

Mr Gubo further blamed the political class for failing to provide direction and using the ethnic animosity for selfish gains.

The Pastoralist Community Initiative and Development Assistance (PACIDA) Executive Director Patrick Katelo, said conflicts among the pastoralists recur due to movement in search for pasture and water for their animals.

Mr Katelo said there was need for programmes that lead to attitude change among pastoralist communities.

“Militias and arms flow from the neighbouring countries are part of the conflict system in northern Kenya. There is a need for co-ordination of national and county peacebuilding initiatives with regional ones to end the tradition,” Mr Katelo said.

Marsabit County Commissioner Evans Achoki, said a series of peace meetings held across the county to unite warring groups were bearing fruits.

He also revealed that hundreds of illegal firearms had been impounded.

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