NAIROBI – A Kenyan official on Saturday refuted claims that the northeastern county of Mandera, which borders Somalia, was under the control of al-Shabaab militants.
Nicodemus Musyoki Ndalana, regional commissioner for the Northeast, said the allegations by Mandera governor Ali Roba that the county was under the sway of the Somalia-based militant group were inaccurate.
“For the record, Mandera is one of the border counties that have benefited enormously from the massive investments of the national government in the gradual upgrading of security infrastructure, deployment of personnel and improvement of security assembly mechanisms,” Ndalana said. in a statement issued in Nairobi.
Roba recently claimed that al-Shabab militants had taken control of remote corners of Mandera County that lack connectivity and the presence of security personnel.
He said the vast county was at risk of being crushed by militants amid frequent attacks targeting homes, schools, health centers, police stations and telecommunications equipment.
Ndalana said al-Shabab remained a security challenge in Mandera and other counties in northeastern Kenya, but had yet to demonstrate its ability to establish a stronghold.
“It is undeniable that the county still experiences daunting scenarios every day due to its proximity to the al-Shabaab corridor, but it is no longer the enemy’s playground,” Ndalana said.
“Contrary to the governor’s claims, since 2013 Mandera County has recorded steady gains thanks to our security forces repelling and deterring threats to life and property,” he added.
Ndalana said learning has resumed in the northeastern counties amid heightened security, adding that the central government has invested in community outreach and youth empowerment to minimize the threat of radicalization.
He said state agents hired village elders to improve intelligence gathering, which helped thwart the attacks.
“Our goal is to strengthen our community deterrence efforts, which have enabled us to support this fight, and our doors are always wide open to anyone with the information or intelligence that can enrich our preventive interventions,” Ndalana said.
He said the government is committed to partnering with elected leaders and local communities to improve the security situation in the northeastern counties and position them as ideal investment destinations.