What you need to know:
- Ms Jematia, an ardent crusader against banditry, has questioned Mr Kamket’s sincerity in the fight against armed criminals alleged to come from his Pokot community
- In February, ,Ms Jematia was arrested by detectives from the Directorate of Criminal Investigations for allegedly threatening to arm locals against armed criminals
Baringo Woman Representative Florence Jematia is not new to controversy.
Ms Jematia is in hot soup again following her remarks on insecurity on the boundary of Baringo North and Baringo South sub-counties, seven months after she was arrested and charged with inciting locals to arm themselves against bandits.
This time, Tiaty MP William Kamket has threatened to sue her over her alleged defamatory remarks linking him to bandit attacks and stock theft.
On Friday, Mr Kamket instructed his lawyers, Gordon Ogola, Kipkoech and Company Advocates, to write to Ms Jematia demanding an apology. The deadline lapses today.
Ms Jematia, an ardent crusader against banditry, has questioned Mr Kamket’s sincerity in the fight against armed criminals alleged to come from his Pokot community.
During the burial of GSU officer John Kisoi, one of 11 people shot dead by armed bandits in Turkana recently, she said thousands of children in border villages were out of school after locals fled the area fearing for their lives. She dared Mr Kamket to speak against banditry if he was indeed serious about ending it.
Ms Jemati spoke in Kuikui in Baringo North on October 9.
“There is a notorious bandit hiding in the deserted Naromoru village in the war-torn Baringo South. As we speak, he has over 30 militia terrorising locals, and the government should act with haste,” she said.
“I have repeatedly told Kamket even if he sleeps in State House, I will continue taking him head-on until all criminals, including those who have been killing innocent people, are brought to book," she said.
The people of Tiaty, she demanded, should single out the suspects behind the mayhem and surrender illegal guns, including those stolen from slain security officers over the years.
Her sentiments irked Mr Kamket, who felt that the woman rep had slandered him and tainted his image by making unsubstantiated accusations.
He had earlier defended himself against the accusations, saying he would help bring together the warring communities.
“As I earlier indicated, I would be part of the solutions in ending the perennial inter-communal feuds not only in Baringo but the North Rift region. Some political leaders have taken this security issue to be their currency,” he said.
“If my counterparts from the Tugen community are genuine in [trying to resolve this problem], then they should be the happiest people that we are now together and speaking in one voice.”
Instead of shifting blame to others, he said, leaders in the region should join him to end banditry.
In an October 12 letter from his lawyers, Mr Kamket said that during a meeting on October 9, Ms Jematia uttered false information that questioned his integrity and subjected him to public ridicule.
Mr Kamket gave her 48 hours to publish an apology or he would bring legal proceedings against her for defamation.
This is not the first time Ms Jematia has been cited for allegedly inciting one community against another.
On February 2, she was arrested by detectives from the Directorate of Criminal Investigations for allegedly threatening to arm locals against armed criminals.
She questioned the government’s commitment to restoring order in the region, saying hundreds of people had been killed over the years but nothing had been done about it.
During the hearing of her case on August 3, the DCI told a Kabarnet court that the utterances had incited one community against the other.
Prosecutors played a video clip of her utterances, saying it had been reviewed by an expert at the Communication Authority of Kenya (CAK). The clip had been shared on social media.
“CAK has confirmed to this court that the video had not been tampered with and has been produced in court in its natural form,” said state counsel Joseck Abwajo.
He also said he had four witnesses lined up for the case.
“The clip was uploaded on an online news channel that attracted more than 9,273 views with 61 likes. Most of the reactions by viewers indicated that the MP was inciting people while others also stated that they want peace [in the volatile border area],” added the DCI officer at the time.
Daughter of a colonial chief
Ms Jematia, 42, the daughter of a colonial-era chief, hails from Kimalel location in Baringo South.
The firstborn in a family of 14 children studied at Marigat Secondary School and graduated from Nairobi Kenya Medical Training College with a diploma in dentistry.
In 2007, she made her first shot in politics by vying for a civic seat under ODM when she was barely 27 years old, coming in a close second.
In 2011, she joined the United Republican Party (URP) of William Ruto, who was then the Eldoret North MP, and was appointed deputy director of planning, launching her political career.
In 2012, she graduated with a bachelor's degree in political science from the University of Nairobi and later enrolled for master’s in the same field at the same school.
In 2016, she was appointed to the board of directors of the Rural Electrification Authority. A year later, she was nominated to the East Africa Legislative Assembly (EALA) in Arusha, Tanzania, serving until this year, when she was elected as woman rep under UDA.
The MP, a staunch campaigner against insecurity in Baringo, believes that joint efforts among local leaders are necessary to restore order in volatile areas so as to bring meaningful development.
“Everyone is looking up to us leaders to provide solutions to the perennial insecurity menace and unite all warring communities. Whether we like it or not, everything starts and ends with security in this county,” she once said.