Nakuru Governor Lee Kinyanjui has criticized and disputed a Senate committee report that indicted his administration for allegedly rounding up street children and dumping them in Chemasusu Forest at night for Nakuru to be elevated to city status.
The incident, according to the Labour and Social Welfare Committee report, left at least five children aged between 10 and 12 years still unaccounted for to date.
The nine-member panel has asked the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) to conclude an investigation into the incident as well as alleged bribing of street children and give recommendations for prosecution of county officers involved.
However, Governor Kinyanjui has differed with the committee findings, terming its conclusions and recommendations as “at best a joke” which reflects a preconceived political position disguised as a report of the House committee.
“We have received news of a report tabled before the Senate to discuss purported handling of the street children in Nakuru,” he said on Thursday in a statement to newsrooms.
The statement added: “We uphold the role of Senate in oversight matters but fault deliberate distortions manufactured to fit a political narrative.”
According to the governor, there is a desperate attempt by his political detractors to deflect attention from key development agenda that the county has undertaken to a cheap smear campaign.
He has pointed an accusing finger at Nakuru Senator Susan Kihika for allegedly using her colleagues in the Senate to settle political scores.
“What is the connection between the city status quest and the report?” he asked.
“The Senate must rise beyond the narrow interests of specific members keen on using it as a shield,” he said.
Under the Urban Areas and Cities Amendment Bill, Nakuru town was among tens of urban centres earmarked to be elevated to city status.
Under the new law, the number of the resident population required for a city has been reduced by half from 500,000 to 250,000 people.
The same law also allows a county to declare an urban area a municipality if it has a resident population of at least 50,000 residents while for an area to be declared a town it has to have at least a population of 10,000 residents whereas a market centre would only require 2,000 residents.
In its findings, however, the committee chaired by Nairobi Senator Johnson Sakaja observed that at least 41 children were forcibly removed from the streets by county officials, held in detention and later on the night of February 6, 2019 dumped in the forest in Baringo County, as part of a strategy to ‘clean up’ Nakuru in order to fast-track its city status.
“Despite the incident of unlawful detention and dumping of the children being reported to the Central Police Station in Nakuru under occurrence book number 69/7/2/2019 and subsequent follow ups by the DCI officers on the issue, the issue remains inconclusive,” the report released on Wednesday states in part.