Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho has opened up about the pain of being linked to illegal drugs trade, and blamed it on political rivals seeking to block him from defending his seat.
“No one has ever accused me of drug trade or summoned me over the same. These are fabricated lies (by Jubilee leaders) to block me from defending my seat,” Mr Joho told a press conference yesterday.
The governor spoke on the back of the extradition of two Akasha brothers and their associates to the US to stand trial for dealing in narcotics, and a tough declaration by President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto that the Government would not spare drug barons.
Uhuru and Mr Ruto have not named anyone in particular but Joho accused the Government of targeting him in the crackdown.
“I won’t be surprised if they link me to this serious crime because they have tried in the past to accuse me of several crimes like graft, militia training and land grabbing,” he said.
“I want to tell those preaching to us about drugs to acknowledge that this is a national problem that affects even their families and should start from there.”
The governor accused Uhuru and Ruto of fabricating intense propaganda around the war on drugs with no intention of fighting the crime.
He claimed the two appeared to be concerned about smearing their opponents instead of helping the affected youth.
“They should come and visit Magodoroni to see the devastating effects drugs have had on our youths. As they play politics, one youth is dying somewhere,” he said.
Joho said in the run up to the August 8 polls, he expected the State to mount a smear campaign against him on many fronts in a bid to win local support but declared “no matter what they do, they will never succeed”.
This is the first time Joho has come out to defend himself against accusations that he and his family are involved in the narcotics trade, which the Government claimed finances terror in the region.
Joho said he was the target of the renewed war against drugs, as he defended his record in the war against drugs, and agreed with the President and his deputy that the use of narcotics was a major problem in the country.
“Jubilee has all the instruments they need to fight this problem but all they have done is issue endless threats since 2013,” said the governor.
He however said he was in support of all efforts to combat drugs and challenged the Jubilee administration to demonstrate commitment beyond “political opportunism and lamenting”.
Joho claimed that despite controlling the police and other investigation agencies, the Presidency had made “endless threats” and avoided any concrete action against the trade in narcotics.
The governor said he has been wrongfully linked to all sorts of crime by his associates and accused Jubilee of perpetuating the drugs myth about him for political reasons.
He suggested that if the police were serious about combating narcotics, they would target the consumers and work backwards to find the sellers.
He said the county inspectorate has arrested more drug addicts than the police.
The governor also challenged Uhuru to explain why he did not follow through on a pledge he made in 2013 to convert the National Youth Service centre in Changamwe into a rehabilitation facility for addicts.
“My conviction to fight this menace has never changed. The county is currently rehabilitating more than 600 youths through the Hassan Joho Foundation. What have they done?” Joho asked.
He called for a bipartisan approach in the war against drugs, and accused the national government of sidelining the county administration despite its persistent calls for both governments to unite in efforts against the illicit trade.
Uhuru and Ruto have declared a war on drug barons and warned that those involved will be dealt with regardless of any political influence they wield.
On Monday, Ruto said the Government would co-operate with any extra-judicial requests from the US, where two Kenyans were shipped last week to face narcotics charges.
Addressing a rally in Mtwapa town, Kilifi County, Ruto said the extradition of Baktash Akasha and Ibrahim Akasha was just the tip of the iceberg.
“Drug lords should move out of Kenya because there is no place to hide. They will all be rounded up and prosecuted because Jubilee will not tolerate them. They have destroyed hundreds of our youths with narcotics. They are now in hot soup and better close shop,” the DP said.