Kenya: Ukur Yatani Urges Probe Into 'Marsabit Graft'

National Treasury Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yatani has written to the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) to investigate his political rival, Marsabit Governor Mohamud Ali.

In the letter dated July 8, and copied to the National Intelligence Service (NIS) Director General Philip Kameru, Mr Yatani directs EACC boss Twalib Mbarak to expedite investigations against his Marsabit Gubernatorial race opponent.

The directive by the Cabinet secretary to EACC raises questions on the use of State office and investigative agencies against political opponents.

Mr Yatani, who lost the Marsabit gubernatorial race to Mr Ali in 2017 polls, has already expressed interest in contesting for the seat again in 2022.

"In view of the above developments, I urge your office to quickly investigate all bank accounts held by the governor and his family members," states Mr Yatani in the letter.

Travel expenses

The letter, which is marked as confidential, directs the EACC to narrow the investigations on Mr Yatani and examine the travel expenses incurred by the governor and his family members.

The letter states that the governor should be investigated for some Sh1.5 million media advertisement bill and use of road levy funds among others.

Mr Yatani says as a Cabinet Secretary, he is duty bound to highlight the unanswered graft questions raised against the governor.

The letter bears the logo of the office of the National Treasury and Planning, and signed off by Mr Yatani, which means he is giving the directive in his official capacity.

The EACC is an independent institution and creates aspersions, especially coming at a time when the investigative authority like Directorate of Criminal Investigations are being accused of witch-hunt.

This is not the first time Mr Yatani has been in the limelight for allegations of using his office to promote his political interest when the state officers are expected to be apolitical.

Activist Okiya Omtatah sued Mr Yatani for influencing the allocation of Sh4.2 billion projects in his North Horr constituency, Marsabit County.

Mr Omtatah detailed the multimillion-shilling projects being implemented through at least five State agencies, which at the time the activist said shows intense lobbying and use of State resources for political gain.

One of the projects at one time was a subject of the query after the Transport Cabinet Secretary and the Principal Secretary told a parliamentary committee they don't know the source of the fund.

The officials told the committee that they could not understand where the Sh2.1 billion came from, noting that only Sh300 million had been allocated for the Marsabit-Shegel road project.

Mr Yatani comes from the Gabbra community, while Mr Ali is a Borana. The two communities have been fighting for close two decades now, a war at one time in 2006 claimed the lives of all MPs from Marsabit when a military plane heading to Marsabit crashed in foggy weather.

The mantle of leadership of Gabbra and Borana fell on the shoulders of Mr Yatani and Mr Ali respectively.

In 2013, when Mr Yatani was Marsabit governor, clashes broke out in Moyale. Thousands of residents were displaced and property destroyed, leading to Deputy President William Ruto threatening that if the governor will not stop fueling the clashes, the county will be disbanded and the role reverted to national government.

While Gabbra claims Mr Ali is supporting his community, the Borana accuse Mr Yattani of using his position as Treasury CS to skew allocations of resources and compromise the security apparatus to marginalise the Borana community.

Three weeks ago, Isiolo Woman Representative Rehema Jaldesa, speaking on the floor of the House, linked Mr Yatani to tribal violence in Marsabit and Isiolo counties. Mrs Jaldesa claimed that Mr Yatani was pursuing politics of displacing the Borana community.

The two communities clashed early this month. The chaos started when a Borana herder was killed a few kilometers from Marsabit town. Two days later, three people from the Gabbra community were killed in what was seen as a revenge attack.

Heavily armed

And a day later, attackers believed to be from North Horr Constituency attacked and burnt down a Borana village within Saku constituency before they were repulsed by security team when they attempted to attack Manyatta Jillo village, a Borana settlement.

Saku MP Dido Rasso says that all 'wars' have been fought within his constituency.

"They (militia) overwhelmed the security officials and even with the help of military chopper, they still drove away livestock. They have heavily armed," says Rasso, a retired military colonel.

The intense fighting paralysed business within Marsabit town and it took intervention of General Service Unit officers to normalise the situation.

President Kenyatta summoned the elected leaders to State House to discuss the matter, during which according to those in attendance, the Borana leaders demanded Mr Yatani to be involved in peace talks noting that he was a major player.

The President designated Interior Minister Fred Matiang'i, Marsabit Governor Ali and National Cohesion and Integration Commission to meet and agree on a roadmap to peace in Marsabit.

Mr Yatani's name again featured prominently during the discussion on the cause of the conflict and solutions but he insists it is the governor who is fanning the animosity.

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