Azimio la Umoja Coalition leader Raila Odinga was on Friday, May 5 denied entry into the Shakahola mass grave site in Kilifi County.
The former Prime Minister had arrived at the forest for the purpose of visiting the graves when he was stopped from gaining access by the police.
He was in the company of Malindi Member of Parliament (MP) Amina Mnyazi and Kilifi Woman Representative Gertrude Mbeyu as well as Magarini MP, Harry Kombe.
“I want to access the forest so that I can be able to see the graves, I can’t travel all the way and go back without seeing the scene,” Raila insisted.
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The operation commander had however asked Raila to seek permission from the Inspector General of Police.
“We received a directive from the Inspector General of the Police, Japhet Koome, not to allow anyone to the scene of a crime where the bodies were buried…. There is an ongoing operation which we are here to protect,” the senior officer explained to Raila, who himself was struggling to defend himself regarding his visit.
The commander however revealed that the area was declared a crime scene and allowing him access could interfere with the ongoing investigations.
“No one is allowed in the forest because the [investigation] process is delicate,” said Peter Ndung’u, the senior assistant inspector general of police, despite clarification from the leaders that they would not interfere with the ongoing investigation.
The officer further argued that allowing Raila and his team to access the forest would amount to insubordination.
“Who do you answer to? Kindly explain so the right honourable Prime Minister can understand how to access the forest. Do we need court orders,” a local leader asked.
“Afande… afande (officer). Listen to us…” Raila added.
On Monday, May 1, Raila urged the police to allow the members of the public, media and humanitarian organizations to visit the area to see for themselves what was happening.
“The current blanket restrictions placed on independent observers, including the media and civil society must be lifted. The State must give the media full access to the scene of the crime and various aspects of the investigation,” Raila urged.
He further warned President Ruto on forming a judicial commission to investigate the massacre, arguing that the move was unconstitutional and was against the 2010 Constitution and its entrenchment of Separation of Powers which indicates that the exercise of judicial power is only as provided by Article 1 and Chapter 10.
“The people have delegated their sovereignty of judicial power to only the Judiciary and Independent tribunals established under the Constitution. Only Parliament can establish a subordinate court or an independent tribunal through an Act of Parliament.
“Only Parliament can determine the jurisdiction and functions of a court or independent tribunal. It is also now the law as determined by our courts that only the Judicial Service Commission can determine who would be employed to serve in such a tribunal,” he added.
He asserted that Section 13 of the Commissions of Inquiry Act makes it clear that an inquiry shall be deemed to be a judicial proceeding, which makes it an absolute preserve of the Judiciary under the Constitution.
On Friday, May 5, President Ruto appointed 13 professionals to the Judicial Commission of Inquiry into the Shakahola massacre which has seen more than 100 bodies exhumed.
Lady Justice Jessie Lessit was picked as the commission’s chairperson, with Lady Justice (Rtd.) Mary Muhanji Kasango, Eric Gumbo, Bishop Catherine Mutua, Jonathan Lodompui (Dr.), Frank Njenga (Dr.), Wanyama Musiambu and Albert Musasia as members.
Oliver Kipchumba Karori and Rachel Maina joined the commission as Joint Secretaries, while lawyer Kioko Kilukumi was appointed the Lead Counsel.
Interior Cabinet Secretary Kithure Kindiki on April 26 imposed a dawn-to-dusk curfew in the Chakama ranch in Shakahola for a period of 30 days, further noting that no public gatherings, processions, or movements in and out of the ranch would be allowed during the period.