Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) Director General Ezra Chiloba was Wednesday, March 15 forced to scamper for safety in Kisumu after a group of Azimio protesters stormed his meeting.
Chiloba, who was in Kisumu town to officiate the celebration to mark World Consumers Rights Day at Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Sports Complex, narrowly escaped the wrath of angry demonstrators who were taking part in the nationwide anti-government protests called by Azimio Leader Raila Odinga to protest the high cost of living and electoral reforms.
The demonstrators stormed the event, turning it chaotic just moments after concluding the protests and presented a memorandum to Kisumu County Commissioner's office.
They disrupted the public event which was organized by the CA.
This is after they got wind that the ICT and Digital Economy Cabinet Secretary Eliud Owalo was among the leaders present at the event.
The demonstrators moved to the venue to seek an audience with Owalo, who was expected to be the chief guest a the event, but failed to turn up.
Chiloba and a host of other leaders at the function were forced to flee after it emerged that things were getting out of hand.
The prostesters overran the event and grabbed food meant for the guests as the caterers watched in panic.
Those who were in the queue to take lunch ran for safety.
"You can't come to Kisumu to celebrate while we are mourning. This event will not go on," one of the demonstrators shouted.
Shouting the name of Owalo, the protestors went around looking for him everywhere, including the tents and in the toilets but could not find him.
They accused Owalo of being used by the President William Ruto-led administration to destabilise Nyanza region against their leader Raila Odinga.
After failing to get the CS, the irate protestors then stormed the catering services and ate all the available food as organizers and their visitors ran away for safety.
They also broke plates and cups that were in the tent.
“You people cannot be here feeling good when we go hungry. Some of us only see juice on TV,” one demonstrator said.
All the fliers were pulled out as a handful of police officers who were providing security to the event helplessly watched as things unfolded in disbelief.
Organizers who had mounted stands hurriedly moved to close exhibition shops fearing that their products that were on display could be looted.
Consequently, the event ended in disarray as attendees quickly folded their belongings and packed ready to leave.
Earlier, hundreds of the lakeside city residents went to the streets to take part in the anti-government protests ahead of a national demonstration called by the Azimio leadership on March 20 in Nairobi to protest the high cost of living.
The processions began in Kondele through the Central Business District (CBD) before concluding next to the Kisumu State Lodge.
Carrying anti-government placards, twigs, and sufurias, the protestors danced and sang songs as they stare at each other with the hawked-eyed police who stood guard next to the Kisumu State Lodge.
The demos led by Kisumu deputy governor Mathews Owili, Kisumu Central MP Joshua Oron, and Kisumu Assembly Speaker Elisha Oraro were largely peaceful.
A host of MCAs from the county and ODM party officials were also in attendance.
Azimio protesters in Migori
In Migori County, the demonstrations to push for electoral and economic reforms were called off until Friday, March 17.
Governor Ochillo Ayacko said the street demonstrations have been put forward to allow the ongoing Lake Region Economic Bloc (LREB) summit to proceed smoothly as planned.
LREB had planned much earlier to hold the summit in the town and it was feared the demos would affect their business.
Consequently, the county management in close consultation with the LREB secretariat agreed to call off the mass protest.
Spot-checks around the town established that roads, that were blocked and the Migori-Isebania Highway Bridge welded to block motorists from plying the route, were all opened.
But the action came late after some of the would-be potential investors and guests to the summit retreated in fear of chaos, although Migori County Secretary Oscar Olima said many had reported today.
Police acting on command from Nyanza Regional Police boss Karanja Muiruri removed the road barriers.
Security patrols on the highway were also beefed up, but police did not lobby tear gas canisters to disperse the picketers.
They acted in a responsible manner to avoid causing running battles.
Sources at the police said they were on instructions to avoid direct confrontation with the picketers.
But so far there are not yet violent actions reported in Migori County. The demos have largely been peaceful but worrying, though.
Day one of the LREB event was marred with low turnout with only five of the 14 governors from the bloc turning up for the summit.
The governors were Prof Anyang Nyong’o,(Kisumu), Migori Governor Ochillo Ayacko, Kenneth Lusaka, (Bungoma), Simba Arati, (Kisii), and Fernandes Barasa (Kakamega).
None of the governors spoke about the mass action. They steered clear of the controversial subject to allow the summit to focus on its objectives.
One of the key objectives of the summit is to find effective ways that the member counties can leverage their economies of scale. This includes sharing experiences on cross-cutting issues affecting their people.
It is recalled that the bloc has been toying with the idea of forming a regional bank, which is still elusive.
While they had proposed that each member counties contribute at least Ksh200 million toward establishing the bank, they were advised to wait until a law operationalizing LREB is enacted.
Nyong’o said they will continue to push for the legal sanctions of the bloc to formalize its activities.
There are many activities lined up between the member counties on agriculture, climate change, environment, and trade among others where the bloc seeks to synergize to explore their resources.
Currently, its activities are restricted by lack of a legal backing to make huge contributions to the kitty a success.
Sources within the party rank and file in the county established that the demos would return on Friday, March 17.
Migori ODM County branch secretary Joseph Olala and Chairman Philip Makabong'o said their plans were on course to withstand ODM leader Raila’s call for mass action, once they are done with the vital LREB summit.
“We are resting now until Friday,’’ claimed Olala.
While in Migori last weekend, the Azimio leader also decried what he termed the creation of unconstitutional offices in the public service at the expense of Kenyans.
Raila said that the President "must stop dividing the country along tribal lines alleging sackings that only targeted legitimate public appointments".