Women and political leaders, led by Turkana Central MP John Lodepe, stormed the county commissioner's office on Tuesday, protesting Sunday night’s arson attack in Napeitom village that left seven people dead.
This happened as villagers fled Napeitom in Turkana East sub-county to Lokori, about 35km away, leaving the village deserted.
It emerged that those burnt beyond recognition that night as they slept in their homes included four schoolchildren.
Two people who were severely burnt were evacuated by the Kenya Red Cross and county government health officials to Lokori Sub-County Hospital.
The leaders stormed the county administrator’s office moments after Governor Josphat Nanok issued a statement saying the attack had interrupted learning even before the Education minister ordered schools for the elections. It had also interrupted services at health facilities.
The attackers were suspected to be bandits from neighbouring Baringo County.
Governor Nanok claimed the attack was not a coincidence but a well-orchestrated move to disrupt next week’s elections and undermine the participation of voters.
“It is also meant to act as a tool for politicians to mobilise support by whipping up the emotions of residents," Mr Nanok claimed as he condemned what he said was police laxity.
Mr Lodepe and Ms Cecilia Ng'itit, the United Democratic Alliance (UDA) aspirant for the woman representative seat, led protesters in a march through Lodwar town from KCB Bank to the county commissioner’s office, carrying placards with messages that included 'Turkana lives matter'.
They proceeded to the county commissioner’s and the Turkana Central deputy county commissioner's offices, which were wide open, but there was no one to listen to their grievances.
While in the county commissioner's office, they chanted ‘no peace, no election,’ demanding the resignation of Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i and saying he had failed to guarantee security for residents.
Government on spot
Earlier, Governor Nanok said Dr Matiang’i and the Inspector-General of Police Hilary Mutyambai were lax and had failed to uphold the law and protect citizens and their property.
He claimed that the police base in Napeitom village had no officers at the time of the attack, but Rift Valley Regional Commissioner Maalim Mohamed dismissed the allegations.
“Ignore the nonsense. The police were there and prevented a possible massacre,” he said.
Mr Nanok claimed officers only came to the scene more than 10 hours later after the damage had been done, though there are officers strategically stationed in Kapedo, Lomelo and Lokori.
"To end this vicious cycle of violence, those responsible for the attack must be brought to book to face the consequences of their crimes," Mr Nanok said.
He said there were more attacks in Lokwar village in Turkana South sub-county where three children from the same family and a community health worker were shot dead. The bandits also attacked Kamuge and Kapedo villages, near the border of Turkana and Baringo counties.
He noted that bandits seem to be employing mercenary scorched-earth tactics, razing houses and creating a wave of fear in neighbouring villages.