NAIROBI, November 2 – After spending two nights in police custody, Mandera Central Member of Parliament Billow Kerrow said he had no regrets over comments he made that landed him in trouble.
Kerrow, who was arrested on Friday night and released early Sunday morning, said he was ready to face incitement to violence charges that will be preferred against him on Monday.
He had been arrested for allegedly making ‘inciting’ comments, while castigating the on-going joint security operation in his constituency, initiated to quell inter-clan fighting over the past few weeks that has left at least 24 people dead.
“I stand by all the comments I made. I have no regrets to make whatsoever, because all that I said is factual and has been confirmed by Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR) officials who toured the region,” Kerrow said.
He had accused the security forces conducting the operation of gross violation of human rights, while calling for them to end the offensive operation.
“They (police) have been interrogating me on these claims. I don’t regret having made the comments and I am prepared to face the charges,” he said on Sunday, hours after being released from the Gigiri police station.
Earlier on Saturday, dozens of his supporters were violently dispersed by the police when they turned up at the station to demand for his release.
The same group had also held another demonstration in Nairobi’s Eastleigh estate, where police shot in the air and lobbed tear gas at them.
During the Sunday press conference, Kerrow condemned the police action and once again demanded an end to the security operation in the region.
He said the operation had sent many of his residents running scared, forcing them to seek refuge in neighbouring Somalia and Ethiopia.
“I want an end to this (operation). It is not the right thing when a government cracks on her own people in such oppressive manner,” he said.
Security forces comprising of the police and military personnel have been carrying out a house-to-house search in the region looking for guns and other weapons.
By Friday, police had announced the recovery of 38 assault rifles and grenade launchers used by bandits and other organised gangs in the region.
On Sunday, Police Spokesman Erick Kiraithe dismissed Kerrow’s remarks and vowed that the security operation would continue.
He denied the claims levelled against the police on the abuse of human rights, and warned leaders against inciting local residents.
So far, he said, local people are cooperating well with the police and therefore there is no point in saying the operation should stop.
“The operation is very successful and is being done at the interest of the local people,” he said.