Plot to ‘arrest’ Governor Simba Arati sparks fresh row in Kisii politics

Kisii county governor Simba Arati

Kisii County Governor Simba Arati during the swearing-in of a new Public Service Board at Gusii stadium.  

Photo credit: Ruth Mbula | Nation Media Group

Political wrangles in Kisii County have taken a new twist after an alleged plot by security officers to arrest Governor Simba Arati and some of his supporters was revealed.

In a leaked audio clip which has since gone viral on social media, a person suspected to be a senior county security officer discloses a plan by the police to 'take charge' of the political situation in Kisii.

In the 5:01 minutes audio, the voice is heard issuing directions on how Mr Arati and some of his men should be dealt with.

Reacting to the leaked audio clip, the Orange Democratic Movement party on Sunday demanded that Governor Arati be protected from vicious attacks by officers of the national government and that action be taken against those involved.

"The national government should stick to the provisions of the constitution on how it should relate with the county governments to realise development in the counties and not using security agencies to harass, intimidate and threaten governors," Mr Sifuna said, affirming the position of the Orange party.

The moment armed men attacked Kisii Governor Simba Arati in South Mugirango

The leaked audio comes in the wake of the state through the directorate of criminal investigations asking the court to allow it to search the homes or houses of 14 of Governor Arati’s supporters.

In the Miscellaneous Criminal Application at the Chief Magistrate’s Court in Kisii, the Directorate of Public Prosecutions alleges that the 14 individuals are in possession of illegal weapons used to commit various criminal offences in the county.

Intelligence report

The prosecution avers that there is a credible intelligence report that the respondents are in possession of illegal weapons meant for the commission of offences and disruption of peace within Kisii County.

“I have information that the respondents are organising criminal activities which is a threat to the public safety and that of the entire Kisii County. I am carrying investigations of the respondents’ pursuit to intelligence reports” reads an affidavit by the Kisii County Criminal Investigations Officer Cathrine Njue.  

As such, she requested the court to issue her with an order for a search warrant “to enter, search and obtain any crucial information, documents and items from the homes or houses belonging to all respondents”.

The DCI submits that sections 118, 119 and 120 of the criminal procedure code give the court power to issue a search warrant, upon an application.

Interior Cabinet Secretary Kithure Kindiki, in one of his visits to Kisii announced, various steps made to eradicate violent political activities in parts of Kisii County.

The measures include personnel changes and the deployment of a special team to investigate and bring to account the organisers, financiers and perpetrators of violent incidents in the county.

Further, the CS disclosed that some politicians were party to those incidents of violence in one way or the other and warned that they would be held responsible for the crimes.

Prof Kindiki made the revelations after he held a dawn meeting with county security personnel in Kisii Town last month, indicating that individuals should not use politics to mask their engagement in criminal activities.

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“Security agencies are directed to prioritise preventive security measures and enforce the law firmly and without regard to the political affiliation or social ran of lawbreakers,” the CS said.

Prof Kindiki's visit came after Governor Arati lamented government inaction as criminals unleashed terror on residents in recent months.

Mr Arati indicated that some victims of such attacks had previously died while others sustained serious injuries.

Several months ago, the governor’s meeting was disrupted at Nyakembene (South Mugirango) and the attendees had to flee for their lives. Mr Arati was rescued by his security detail who evacuated him to safety.

“No arrests have been made in relation to that incident,” Mr Arati said.

During the attack, Mr Arati said, the goons fired live ammunition and propelled teargas canisters at his meeting.

During his visit to Kisii, Prof Kindiki said that the government was alarmed by violence in politics and warned leaders involved that they would be dealt with decisively within the law.

Security interventions

“Politics is a democratic, constitutional and legal activity. Some people are hiding behind politics to cause violence and we will not entertain that,” the CS told journalists, adding that the UDA administration does not politicise security interventions.

He said political players were free to compete and differ in opinion, issues and policy matters but they should be aware that nobody will be allowed to commit crimes and hide behind politics.

“We will crack the whip impartially. Those organising and financing violence will be arrested irrespective of their political affiliation,” Prof Kindiki said,

In the recorded audio voice, the speaker raises questions about the operations of the police in Kisii County, pointing to a sinister plan to withdraw Mr Arati’s security, plant weapons at his home, and then organise a multi-agency raid to retrieve the alleged weapons.

“It is now being said that we have been very lenient with the governor thus emboldening him to hurl insults at everybody yet there is no development happening in Kisii,” the voice says in reference to some recent meeting of security chiefs.

The alleged leniency, the voice says, is the reason the immediate former Kisii County Commissioner Tom Anjere was replaced.

"Security iko tayari hata wakati wa kukamata… kumesemekana hata kama ni hizo weapons zinaweza nunuliwa isemekane hata..unajuwa mahali imefika huyu mtu tumembembeleza tafadhali kuja mkutano anaongea vile anataka na anakana kila kitu," The voice can be heard saying.

Security team

This loosely translates to, the security team is ready to arrest even if it will mean buying weapons and planting them on the stubborn suspects.

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The sinister move is to be executed with precision and anyone who dares to stand in the way or is perceived to be conflicted is to be sidelined or transferred.

"We must enter into the governor's house. Is removing our uniforms a big deal? It happens just in a blink, isn't it?" Goes the conversation. 

The voice speaks further: " Hata kama ni hiyo ya kuweka vitu... Unajua mtu akibembelezwa ya kutosha ni kuenda the hard way sasa".

This loosely translates to, the person has been begged for far too long and now it is to take the difficult route even if it means planting weapons. 

 The aim, the voice suggests, is just to ensure that a scene is created, and victims arraigned on tramped up charges and "humbled".

The security meeting resolved that even the officers of the Office of the Director of Public Prosecution are to be removed from the way if they are to act as an obstacle.

"Right now we are very serious. The county commissioner went and we are next if we don't act. And you know, you are often nailed from above," the voice says.