Nakuru Governor Lee Kinyanjui and DCI boss George Kinoti have been summoned by a Senate committee over 'missing' five street children rounded-up from Nakuru town by county askaris.
The Labour and Social Welfare Committee wants Kinyanjui and the Kinoti to explain the whereabouts of the street children who were reportedly picked up and dumped in a forest in what could dent the much-awaited elevation of Nakuru town to a city.
The children were part of a group of 41 forcibly removed from the streets by county officials, held in detention and later on the night of February 6, 2019 dumped in Chemasusu forest in Baringo County, according to a report by the committee.
“We think that even others could have lost their lives. People must be held accountable for that. It is not the first time this is it is happening in Nakuru.it means there are notorious officers in that county and action must be taken against them,” Nairobi Senator Johnson Sakaja told the Star.
The lawmaker held they will seek to know steps the county government has taken to rehabilitate the street families while DCI will explain the status of investigations into the missing children.
Last week, senators voted for a report of the House Devolution and Intergovernmental Relations that recommended promotion of the town.
The approval by the Senate sparked celebrations in the town with residents and county officers taking to the streets to celebrate.
With the senate nod, the President is now expected to grant a charter conferring city status to Nakuru.
Section 7 of the Urban Areas and Cities Act provides that the President may, on the resolution of the Senate, confer the status of a city on a municipality by grant of a charter in the prescribed form.
Last year, Sakaja’s committee noted that 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 matter remains inconclusive.
The nine-member committee stated that the actions of Nakuru County were in violation of international conventions that Kenya is a signatory to regarding the protection and care of children, the Constitution and the Children’s Act, 2001.
The Committee on Labour and Social Welfare in its recommendations observed that the process of conferment of city status should be put on hold until the matter of these street children was resolved.
During the debate on the Devolution committee report, several senators took issue with the county’s actions to round-up the urchins.
“Criminal action should be visited on somebody. This Senate cannot pussyfoot around that issue. There is blood on the officers at the county government of Nakuru,” Makueni senator Mutula Mutula said.
Bungoma Senator Moses Wetang'ula termed the actions by the county government as inhuman and criminal and called for culpability on the part of county officials.
Tharaka Nithi Senator Kithure Kindiki said the disappearance of the five street children who have never been found, must be addressed whether the Municipality is conferred with the status on or not.
“We want to make sure that county governments become accountable because we are talking about orphans and children whose whereabouts are unknown,” Prof Kindiki said.
He added: “I believe this constitutes crimes against humanity irrespective of the number of children so long as we can approve a government policy to enforce forced displacement,”
Migori Senator Ochillo Ayacko regretted that what Governor Lee Kinyanjui and administrators of Nakuru County did to the poor and vulnerable people is not acceptable.
“Let us not throw out the baby with bathwater. Let us ensure that if there is any punishment, and there should be, it should be visited on the individuals,” Ochillo advised. By Julius Otieno, The Star