NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 10 – Mandera Senator Billow Kerrow has been arrested over claims that there were mass graves in the county, although he retracted his claims and apologised Wednesday.
He was arrested Thursday morning together with five other MPs from Northern Kenya at the Wilson Airport and they were taken to the CID headquarters.
Kerrow had earlier said they had evidence that most of the people who have disappeared in the past three years had been picked up by KDF soldiers, but later publicly apologised for claiming the existence of mass graves.
“I want to tell Kenyans that we regret the report that we issued earlier that several graves have been found and they could be mass graves of the people who have been missing,” a remorseful Kerrow apologised.
The Senator tendered the apology on Wednesday, after Interior Cabinet Secretary Joseph Nkaissery warned of legal action if he does not retract his statement.
An excavation of the alleged mass grave sites in Mandera did not yield any more body apart from the one belonging to a woman, whom police believe was an Al Shabaab member.
Nkaissery had a specific warning to the Senator for making the sensational claims.
“I demand that any leader that made the sensational statements and allegation about the existence of mass graves retract in full and apologise to the nation for their alarmist statements or face the full force of the law,” he warned.
“I equally call on the appropriate security agencies to hold on account anyone who may have broken the law in this regard.”
Rumours about mass graves started on Sunday when the body of a woman was discovered in Mandera, days after she had been picked by unknown people from her vegetables business in the town.
Citing intelligence reports, Nkaissery said the woman was cooking for the militia operating in Bul-hawa in Somalia.
On Wednesday, CS Nkaissery denied government involvement in her death, but said that she had been an Al-Shabaab cook in Somalia.
According to intelligence reports, he said, the woman was cooking for the militia operating in Bula Hawa before they were rooted out of the area by the Kenya Defence Forces.
“She is a sympathizer or a member of Al-Shabaab. We don’t know what happened to her. She could have been killed by her people,” he said.
Area lawmakers had accused the Kenya Defence Forces of engaging in extra-judicial killings, reports that were denied by the Forces spokesperson David Obonyo.
Obonyo said the mandate of KDF was only to deter external aggression while challenging those with evidence to provide it to relevant authorities.