Police bar Raila from accessing Shakahola gravesite as MPs' committee allowed in

Azimio Leader Raila Odinga and Malindi MP Amina Mnyazi when they arrived at the Shakahola Command Centre in Kilifi County. 

Photo credit: Wachira Mwangi | Nation Media Group

Police on Friday denied Azimio leader Raila Odinga and three local MPs entry into the Shakahola mass gravesite, saying it is a security operation zone.

Mr Odinga, who had arrived at the scene at midday accompanied by MPs Amina Mnyanzi( Malindi), Harrison Kombe (Magarini) and Gertrude Mbeyu (Kilifi Woman Rep), waited for two hours as they made calls to the Interior Cabinet Secretary Kithure Kindiki seeking permission to be allowed into the crime scene.

Mr Odinga said he intended to condole with Kenyans who had lost relatives there.

"The Shakahola incident has caught the world's attention. I haven't seen anywhere else where there have been reports of cults (and) the media is blocked. Why did the government ban the media and human rights from the ground? I don't need anyone's permission to get there and I had even made my visit public," Mr Odinga protested.

Interior CS Kithure Kindiki listed the Shakahola forest as a disturbed area and security operation zone last month.

Mr Odinga told the government to come clean on the operation that is going on in the forest.

The ODM leader further claimed that the controversial pastors conducting cultic activities have been hobnobbing with senior political leaders in the government.

Should be arrested

"These are conmen using religion to prey on innocent Kenyans. They are criminals and should be arrested. We raised concerns about the regulations of churches but we were ignored. Now we have been vindicated. These are the same religious leaders who allow politicians to use the church to politicise," he said.

The opposition leader said senior officers had informed him that the area was out of bounds to him and his team.

"CS Kindiki told me the area is an operation zone. But at the same time, there are MPs on the way coming to the site and we were asked to wait for them. They are yet to arrive. But why allow MPs and deny me entry into the scene?" he posed.

The National Assembly Administration and Internal Affairs Committee chaired by Gabriel Tongoyo was set to meet with the Kilifi Governor and County Commissioner as well as the county security committee regarding the Shakahola incidences.

The MPs later arrived and were given a guided tour of the site by the site commander, 30 minutes after Mr Odinga had left.

Ms Mbeyu said they did not want to view bodies but just the gravesites.

“Innocent people starved to death. Some suffocated and strangled. This is heinous and horrified the entire world,” she said.

Mr Odinga said the Shakahola massacre should not have happened in a country with law and order.

“Where were security agencies when this happened? They are coming after the act to protect graves and dead bodies,” he said.

“The responsibility of the government is to protect the lives of Kenyans. Why deny us access? Media should be allowed to cover the happenings.”