The new Elgeyo Marakwet county commissioner was Thursday forced to lock himself inside his office when protesters, including members of the county assembly, demanded his exit.
Joseph Samwel Otieno, who reported to his new station barely a week ago from Homa Bay to replace Mr Arthur Osiya, was accused of presiding over the destruction of forests when he was a district commissioner in the area seven years ago.
Armed Administration Police officers kept the protesters at bay outside the county commissioner’s Iten Town offices. They were, however, addressed by deputy county commissioner Moses Lilan.
Speaking on phone, Mr Otieno said he had been posted by the principal secretary and it was only the PS who could transfer him.
“I am very unhappy at all this. I am willing to leave for wherever I can go to serve on condition that they bring me the PS’s transfer letter,” he said.
The Majority and Minority leaders of the county assembly, Wilson Kipketer and Benson Kiptire respectively and deputy Speaker Paul Suter, among others, said the government should “immediately and unconditionally” transfer Mr Otieno, challenging his tenure as Marakwet DC.
“Without any malice, this man is on record that he colluded with illegal loggers then government officials who depleted our forests. We had to raise the alarm that saw the government transfer him from the area,” claimed Mr Kiptire.
He asked the President to “move Mr Otieno to any other county where there are no trees because he is allergic to trees”.
Mr Chesing’any said the memories of forests’ destruction during Mr Otieno’s days as DC in the region were still fresh. He claimed Mr Otieno “manipulated” the district executive security team, leading to “illegal harvesting of our forests in Stoton, Cheptongei and Kipkunur”.
The Kuserwo Ward MCA said the return of the official would reverse the gains made in conservation.
On claims he colluded with saw millers and illegal timber merchants to destroy Marakwet forests as a DC, Mr Otieno said: “I am innocent and you rather ask them to explain to you the genesis of the hostility.”
He said his morale was down as he starts work.