NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 11 – The ad-hoc Senate Committee investigating the May 9 Solai Dam tragedy has recommended that Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiangi suspends the Nakuru County Commissioner “for complicity.”
Committee Chairman Mutula Kilonzo Jnr said they reached the interim recommendation after last Friday’s fact-finding mission to Solai where some of the affected families accused the County Commissioner, his deputy and area chiefs of being part of an intricate web that stole from the victims.
“We recommended in that interim that the CS must suspend the National Government officials who have been seen to participate in a partisan manner in the question of Solai. We do not understand how the County Commissioner can be the one issuing out payouts on behalf of the owner of the dam while the same government is investigating the owners of the dam,” the Makueni Senator directed.
During the committee site visit on Friday, victims and those affected by the tragedy that claimed 47 lives and left 223 household displaced jeered the County Commissioner and area chiefs accusing them of duping them into signing off their liability claims in exchange for a Sh100,000 payout.
Traders whose business were affected were also required to sign a similar indemnity form being circulated by the County Commissioner and would then be paid Sh1 million as ‘compensation’ to go and start afresh elsewhere.
“Your officers are paying people indemnity. Our concern is that the government has approved charges yet while Patel answers questions in Naivasha, it issues indemnity forms. It is surprising,” Kilonzo said.
Senators Ladema Ole Kina (Narok), Sylvia Kasanga (Nominated) and Johnson Sakaja (Nairobi) expressed concern that the actions of the provincial administrators can interfere with an on-going court case in which in which two owners of the dam and 6 government officials were charged with 48 counts of manslaughter each and neglect of official duties.
“Your officials appear to be sabotaging the case by the government. If your County Commissioner is issuing indemnity forms while the matter is in court, what will the government do when prosecuting the same person you have assisted?” Mutula Jnr further noted.
“We are having serious misgivings about these cases, given what we are seeing we are now wondering if these cases are part of a PR stunt to pull the wool over the eyes of Kenyans but in the long run these owners will walk scot-free for lack of evidence,” Sakaja added while insinuating that he may be filing a class action law suit against the Solai Dam owners to ensure the victims receive justice.
The legislators accused local administrators of creating fake lists of victims of the May 9 tragedy, the chair saying local administrators provided several, some with bogus names.
The committee plans to re-invite local administrators back before them to explain the different lists.
Interior CAS Patrick ole Ntutu who was appeared on behalf of his Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiangi said the ministry was not aware of the allegations but promised the CS will provide a comprehensive investigation report when appears before the Senate team on Tuesday.
“I do not know of the issue of the County Commissioner giving out indemnity forms to affected people but we will investigate.”
“We are ready to look into it internally and investigate. If there is any officer; be it a chief, be it a sub-county commissioner or a county commissioner we will deal with him and we will come with that full report. Because you are telling me something, which we as a ministry think is not happening. But if you have gone on the ground and found it happening then we will investigate,” he said.