By Suleiman Hassan:
Hours after the search for more bodies in Mandera yielded no fruits and Interior Cabinet Secretary Joseph Nkaissery gave ultimatum to leaders and journalists who broke news of alleged mass graves in Mandera to apologize or face arrest, a section of local leaders led by Senator Billow Kerrow have apologized to Kenyans for making the remarks.
In a press statement jointly issued with the County Security team, the leaders said they felt obliged to apologize after the search yielded no fruits following two days of excavations in the area where the graves were allegedly located.
Their apology came after the search for more bodies was concluded on Wednesday afternoon at Ledi in Mandera after excavations using a bulldozer failed to yield results.
Mandera Senator Billow Kerrow said that local leaders and residents called him two days ago informing him about the discovery of the body of the late Isnina who went missing a few days earlier.
He added he was also notified that there were several other graves, possibly holding more bodies each but decided to visit the scene to ascertain the truth.
“As leaders from the area, and aware of the several alleged cases of forced disappearances, we issued a statement to condemn the same and travelled to Mandera to seek due process of exhumations accompanied by anxious relatives of missing persons and local leaders. We made the statement (alleged mass graves) in good faith, believing as everyone in Mandera did that the site held more bodies” said Kerrow who added that even the county commissioner was quoted in the media yesterday suggesting existence of two possible graves.
Kerrow said as representatives of the people, the leaders took their concerns seriously and did all they could to ascertain the truth.
“Regrettably, the allegation of mass graves was not proven & as responsible leaders, we felt obliged to apologize to Kenyans this afternoon” He said.
The Senator however reiterated the position of the leaders regarding the alleged existence of extra-judicial killings and enforced disappearances saying the human right violations were real.
Earlier in the day, Interior Cabinet Secretary Joseph Nkaissery addressed the press at Harambee house, Nairobi and ordered all those who made the allegations to apologize by Thursday December 10th or face arrest.
Nkaissery questioned the patriotism of journalists Yassin Juma and Mohammed Ali whom he said broke the news which he termed as alarmist.
“Nothing was found in the 15 sites that were dug. Excavators were brought in but still found nothing,” noted the CS.
The tough taking Cabinet Secretary said those who made the claims were out to score a political goal by painting the government in the negative.
He leaped to the defense of security agencies and instead blamed youth who deserted Al-shabaab saying they could be behind the killings.
Nkaissery said the woman whose body was found in the only shallow grave that was discovered on Sunday worked as a cook for the Somalia based terror group. He however said investigations into her death were still on.
The slain woman was identified as Isnina Mohamed, a mother of five and a tea vendor in Mandera.
She was picked from her business premises on December 3 by armed men who allegedly identified themselves as security officers.
Local leaders linked the Kenya Defense forces to her abduction and killing but the claim was later vehemently denied by the Defense ministry.