MUMIAS, KAKAMEGA COUNTY. There was drama at Shibale market on the outskirts of Mumias town after Kakamega governor Wycliffe Oparanya and Mumias East MP Benjamin Washiali clashed in the presence of CORD leader Raila Odinga as each of them sought to address victims of torture by police in the ongoing search for seven guns and over 180 rounds of ammunition stolen from nearby Booker Police station.
It all started after Washiali accompanied by former ODM youth leader Rashid Mohammed tried to resist any efforts by Oparanya who was accompanied by Raila Odinga to address the residents who had complained of brutality meted on them by security forces led by the General Service Unit Officers – GSU as they searched the homes for the stolen arms.
Washiali and Mohammed arrived at the market centre ahead of Oparanya and started addressing the residents telling them how they had stood with them and fought to have the operation stopped.
However, they urged the residents not to allow other politicians particularly area governor Wycliffe Oparanya to address them when they had failed to turn up on time to address their grievances in the hands of the ruthless GSU officers.
“We are here to stand with you people of Shibale during this times of brutality and torture by the security officers searching for the guns and I would like to assure you that we have fought to ensure that the operation is terminated and you are left to go about your activities without any fear,” said Mohammed.
He added that they had received information that the governor was on his way to Shibale to address them on the same matter and wondered where he was since the guns were stolen and the operation commenced.
“We are told that governor Oparanya is coming here yet he has not come here since these things happened and are the people behind the collapse of Mumias Sugar that is our economic pillar here and therefore you should not give them an audience to bring here their opposition politics,” added Mohammed.
Washiali on his side told the residents that they should not allow the opposition leaders to bring politics in that issue to start blaming the Jubilee government on such happenings yet they had been among the people behind the collapse of Mumias Sugar company.
The two leaders seemed to be keen on dragging the Mumias Sugar collapse into the stolen guns to be relevant and get the platform to hit at the opposition leaders to gain popularity in the region.
They vowed that they will not allow any other leader to access the area to address the victims of torture by the police forces that are searching for the guns.
“If they insist to come here and address you they should be ready to face the fire from our youths here and if anything the beating must prevail,” Mohammed said.
Just as the two were still addressing and about to wind up and deploy their youths to block Oparanya and his entourage, a vehicle arrived and to their shock if was carrying governor Oparanya and the CORD leader Raila Odinga hence finding them not prepared to block them.
The crowd that Washiali and Mohammed was addressing immediately turned away from them and started cheering Oparanya and Baba as Raila is always referred to hence resorting into a war of words to deny the two new comers time to address the crowd.
Washiali started demanding that Oparanya take responsibility for the collapse of Mumias Sugar with Dr. Evans Kidero the governor for Nairobi until they almost punched each other in the push and pull that saw Washiali push Oparanya to a point where the governor almost fell down.
However the governor managed to address the crowd and condemned the brutality by the officers undertaking the operation to search for the guns.
Raila on his side did not address the crowd due to the confusion and rowdiness from a section of the crowd believed to have been incited by Washiali and Mohammed but instead had a brief talk with Mohammed on the side-lines of the crowd before he walked to his vehicle and went back to Kakamega to the ODM delegates meeting.
Residents leaving in fear as search for guns continues
In the meantime the operation in search for the guns is still going on as residents cry foul due to the manner in which the operation is being conducted.
They claim that the officers behind the operation have paralyzed every business aspect at Shibale market and instilled fear in them as they brutally beat, rape and harass them in the guise of searching for the stolen guns.
“They have raped our women and children and beat us all over demanding that we produce the guns yet we do not know anything about guns. They should come in a more humane and professional way of conducting such an operation instead of torturing us,” said one of the boda boda operators in Shibale.
They cited an incident where a prominent motorbike mechanic and spare parts dealer succumbed to burns death in unclear circumstances after the operation officers were alleged to have set his premises on fire during the operation.
The residents claimed that the operation had paralyzed businesses and other operations in the market and neighboring villages pointing out that some residents have flew the market and retreated back to their respective home villages in fear of the brutal beatings, rapes and all manner of brutality that the officers are employing as they seek to unravel the riddle in the lost guns and ammunition.
However the county commander of police in Kakamega county Tito Kilonzi confirmed that the operation has now been relaxed from the hard search for the guns to the intelligence-led operation that does not affect the residents directly.
Speaking to the Weekly Western Chronicle on phone the commander said that the search is still on despite the fact that it has not yielded any fruits in finding the guns so far.
“We have searched the sugar plantations around and the River Nzoia in our bid to find the guns but so far we have not succeeded but we are still going on with the search,” said Kilonzi