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North Kenya, Rift Valley leaders fear devolution funds cuts after census

Zachary Mwangi
KNBS director-general, Zachary Mwangi. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Leaders from northern Kenya and parts of Rift Valley say they will move to court to challenge the results of the 2019 population census, claiming the figures for their areas were “doctored.”

Majority leader Aden Duale, governors Mohamud Mohamed (Wajir) and Ali Korane (Garissa) and 18 MPs accused the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) of manipulating the population figures for the northern Kenya counties, including Mandera, in a bid to deny them devolved resources.

Speaking separately, three MPs from Elgeyo Marakwet County -- Kangogo Bowen, James Murgor and Daniel Rono -- also disputed the census results and threatened to move to court.

“These figures are fabricated to deny our people resources brought about by devolution. We will not take it lying down,’’ Mr Duale, who is the MP for Garissa Township, said.

He demanded that the 2019 population census results be withdrawn and that the use of the results in planning and resource allocation as directed by President Uhuru Kenyatta during the release of the census results be reconsidered. We have assembled a team of lawyers and statisticians who are preparing the necessary papers that will help us file a case.

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“If the KNBS director-general, Zachary Mwangi, does not open the servers and provide all raw data from mapping to the real census as we have written to him, we will move to court shortly,” Mr Duale said at a press conference in Parliament.

“Marginalised communities in northern Kenya have realised the fruits of independence only after promulgation of the 2010 Constitution. This reality is now in danger curtesy of this fabricated census numbers. These figures must be corrected.”

Mr Duale also accused unnamed officials at the office of the President and the KNBS of manipulating census figures for seven new constituencies in the region.

He said the census figures for Dujis, Lafey, Daadab, Tarbaj, Lagdera and Mandera West had been reduced compared to the 2009 results.

“We see substantive negative growth in the counties of Mandera and six sub-counties. It is clear from voter register of some of the affected constituencies that the purported census numbers do not make sense,” Mr Duale said.

He said Balambala, which had 92,000 voters in 2017, has 55,000 people in the latest census.

He said other glaring inaccuracies include the case of cosmopolitan constituencies of Wajir East, Garissa Township and Mandera East with huge household populations of over 200,000 which have not been captured correctly.

“It beats common sense that such constituencies have less than 20,000 households. We shall seek court redress on this matter,” Mr Duale said.

Governor Mohamed termed the census results as a “sham after Kenyan taxpayer spent Sh18 billion for the exercise.”

“While actual census was carried out in our counties, that data was not used but instead some people sitting in Nairobi boardrooms took the numbers from the air,” the Wajir county boss said.

Mr Korane, the Garissa governor, said the results of the head count constitutes an injustice for the people of northern Kenya.

“This obsession with the north and its numbers has been with us since 2009. You are playing with the numbers and it will backfire unless they are corrected,” Mr Korane said.

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