By Kennedy Kimanthi
A wave of deadly attacks launched by Al-Shabaab and long-standing conflicts among rival clans threaten to turn Mandera County into a killing field.
Despite assurances from the government that the county is safe, the militants, who have claimed responsibility for the attacks — the latest being one on Friday that left four people dead — seem to perpetuate violence with impunity.
Mandera Governor Ali Roba, who escaped unhurt in that attack, said the government must do more to assure the safety of Mandera residents.
Speaking to the Sunday Nation on Friday, an emotional Mr Roba said this was the fifth attempt on his life, and he questioned the national government’s seriousness to safeguard his life.
“I cannot stop living my life because of consistent terrorism yet security personnel are protecting another nation,” said Mr Roba, holding back tears.
He was referring to the continued stay in Somalia of the Kenya Defence Forces under the African Union Mission.
The youthful governor, a pilot by profession, said he was “frustrated beyond words” by the national government.
“I don’t know if the government is waiting for me to die before taking my security seriously; maybe they are waiting until I am killed to understand that the threats are real,” Mr Roba of URP said.
“After the killing of many Kenyans, a security operation centre was established in the county but was removed in less than a month for no apparent reason. This is unacceptable. The government has a responsibility to protect the whole country, and there is no need for it to keep soldiers to protect Somalis instead of protecting Kenyans,” he said.
He told the Sunday Nation that attempts to secure an armoured car had been met with “deafening silence” from the office of the Inspector-General of Police and the Interior ministry.
“I have not received any response from them, and I wonder whether Mandera is in Kenya or another country,” he said.
Just like owning a gun, one has to be licensed to acquire an armoured vehicle. He said he had written to then acting IG Samuel Arachi, former Interior minister Joseph ole Lenku and Principal Secretary Monica Juma to be allowed to use an armoured vehicle.
In the first incident on July 16 last year, a vehicle belonging to Mr Roba was sprayed with bullets at Gerti in Garissa. Mr Roba was not in the vehicle.
His driver and three others escaped unhurt. Later attackers ambushed a Tawakal bus, killed a passenger and injured others.
“My vehicle was shot at in Derti in Garissa and its rear windshield shattered. My driver, two security escorts and a passenger were in the vehicle which was being taken to Nairobi for service. The occupants drove to Garissa where they reported the attack,” Mr Roba said at the time.