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Rift between Kuti, Isiolo MPs widens after reconciliation meeting

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From left: Isiolo Senator Fatuma Dullo, Woman Rep Rehema Jaldesa and Isiolo North MP Hassan Odha address journalists in Isiolo town shortly after a reconciliation meeting with Governor Mohamed Kuti. They dismissed Mr Kuti’s claims that they were behind a recent Twitter post on ICU beds leasing saga. PHOTO | Courtesy of NMG

Four MPs from Isiolo County have lashed out at Governor Mohamed Kuti over claims that they were behind the recent Twitter post that went viral last weekend, days after the Senate ad-hoc committee on Covid-19 initiated a probe into alleged leasing of some of the county’s ICU beds.

The post under the hashtag #IsioloGovernorExposed, which was trending on Twitter on Sunday elicited mixed reactions from Kenyans shortly after the Johnson Sakaja-led committee toured the county to assess its level of preparedness to handle the pandemic.

Senator Fatuma Dullo, Woman Rep Rehema Jaldesa, Isiolo North MP and s Hassan Odha and his Isiolo South counterpart Abdi Koropu have been at loggerheads with the governor over the ICU beds saga.

CONTROVERSY

There has been controversy over the purchase of the six ICU beds after a lobby group shared pictures of a pickup being loaded with equipment outside a private hospital and same vehicle entering the county referral hospital.

While the leaders had kept their differences under the wrap in the wake of the coronavirus, a reconciliatory meeting convened by County Commissioner Herman Shambi instead widened the rift.

The Isiolo town meeting that took about three hours was attended by the MPs, the governor, a number of MCAs, County Speaker Hussein Roba and the security team.

At the meeting, the leaders resolved to work together for the common good of the people particularly on development and security matters, dealing with the rampant drug menace and border issues.

DRUG TRAFFICKING

About 10 specialised detectives from the anti-drugs and anti-terror police units were recently deployed to the county to spearhead campaigns to deal with the rampant drug trafficking and train county sleuths on anti-narcotics and counter terrorism mechanisms.

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The team from the office of the Director of Criminal Investigations and Inspector of Police will also deal with organised crime, contraband goods and human smuggling that is common on the Isiolo-Moyale route.

The governor, shortly after briefing journalists on the meeting’s resolutions, castigated the legislators for reportedly spreading rumours on the ICU beds leasing saga and for popularising the online post.

“If we must work together as leaders, we must be truthful but not spreading lies. We are ready for oversight to be done on us but popularising lies on national media and social media platforms will only bring more trouble,” said the seemingly agitated Mr Kuti.

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Isiolo Governor Mohamed Kuti (right) flanked by Isiolo South MP Abdi Koropu

MPS REACT

In a quick rejoinder, the lawmakers distanced themselves from the governor’s statement and told him off for attacking them in broad daylight during the address.

“He (Governor) talked contrary to what we agreed at the meeting. He instead used the platform to boast and accuse us which is not in order. Leadership is about reconciliation and working together,” said Mr Koropu.

Ms Jaldesa took issues with Mr Kuti for allegedly misleading the public that the county criminal investigations office had completed probe into the beds matter, maintaining that the officer in charge during the meeting said investigations were ongoing.

“None of us is active on Twitter and the hashtag that trended last week was shared by irritated Kenyans who saw him on national television unable to answer simple questions asked by the Senate committee.

“If he is not hiding anything, he should have answered the simple questions asked by the committee on whether he leased the equipment or not,” she said.

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CONCLUDE INVESTIGATIONS

The leaders appealed to the governor to allow relevant agencies investigating the matter to conclude investigations and not trying to influence the outcome.

“The truth will be known after investigations are concluded but it is premature for anyone to claim that probe is over,” MP Odha said, adding that leaders must tell Kenyans how funds entrusted to them are being used.

On biased oversight claims by the governor, Senator Dullo said Mr Kuti must answer the queries raised as all leaders should be accountable to the people of Isiolo.

“As long as he is a public servant, he must answer queries raised because he has been entrusted with billions belonging to Isiolo people. If he does not want to be asked questions, he should vacate the office. Even if a sweeper asks him a question, he should respond and let them know how their money has been used,” the senator said.

EXPENDITURE REPORT

Ms Dullo said they will only be satisfied with the issue once the county provides an expenditure report for the current fiscal year ending June 30, 2020.

MP Koropu demanded that the governor tells the public whether the laid down procurement procedures were followed in buying the ICU beds which the county maintains were sourced from Mission for Essential Drugs and Supplies (MEDS).

“We have seen the beds but the question is, was due process followed and was there competitive bidding? These are the very simple questions that the governor should respond to and not beat round the bush,” Mr Koropu said.

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Ms Dullo said they will be bringing in experts to confirm whether the beds were functional.

The legislators accused the county assembly of sleeping on their job and failing to hold the executive accountable.

They said that no quarterly expenditure report for the assembly and executive had been tabled before the House since the governor took office in 2017.

“It is unfortunate that the work being done by activists should have been done by the county assembly but the latter seems to be in deep slumber and is not keeping the executive on check,” said Mr Odha.

The politicians said the governor should, on an annual basis, tell the public how much money has been used and on what.

THREATS CLAIMS

The legislators also dismissed claims by Mr Kuti that they were threatening senior county security officers carrying out investigations into the matter. They instead accused him of trying to manipulate the security team for his own selfish gains.

In his address, the governor maintained that he is not afraid to be arrested over the ICU beds saga as he is clean on the matter.

Senator Dullo had on May 12 petitioned the Senate to establish how the beds and the support equipment launched on April 10 were procured after lobbies and residents raised concerns.

She also demanded an inquiry into how the Sh40 million set aside by the county government has been used and the findings made public.

Courtesy of the “Daily Nation” (Credit Waweru Wairimu)

About Whispers from the North

Whispers from the North is an online platform that appreciates the ecological, cultural and socio-economic diversities of Northern Kenya. We also acknowledge that the lives of the communities of northern Kenya has been shaped by a number of intrinsic and extrinsic factors which have led to complex challenge that calls for a multifaceted approach.

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